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A Male Care Giver, Care Giver Stress and Burnout

senior couple

Harvey, a male care giver, living in the Mid West writes in:

I am a full-time male care giver for my elderly mother. After reading your posts on this site, I realize I may be suffering from care giver stress and burnout.   Oh, there’s nothing seriously wrong with her. She has never had problems with cancer, stroke, heart disease or diabetes none of the biggies. Broken a few bones along the way, but that’s about it.
She does have a swallowing disorder (which is under control), but mostly she’s just weak, frail, wheelchair-bound, and mildly senile.But on her own, she’d be helpless, and she has no other living family. And judging from some brief stints she has done rehabbing in a nursing home, she would not do well in a permanent institutional setting.
So her continuing to live at home was an easy decision.The decision was easy, but the execution has been difficult, at least for me.I have sacrificed a lot of freedom, income, and personal health (manhandling her around between wheelchair, bed, and potty is exacerbating my own late middle-age physical deterioration).
But it keeps her happy, and aging in place yields the best possible quality of life for her under the circumstances.To do otherwise would surely leave me wracked with regrets. I have a hard time dealing with guilt. Caring for aging parents is a burden and dilemma for millions, and we all have to work out our own decisions on the matter.Many have praised me for these sacrifices, but I marvel at their amazement at my dedication.
After all, this is my mother that we’re talking about. Of course I’m going to do whatever I need to do for her. That’s loyalty. That’s family.

It’s not that she and I have been exceedingly close over the years. On the contrary, we’ve always been rather distant cordial, caring, but not that sort of idealized lovey-dovey mother-son relationship.
But that doesn’t matter, she is still my Mom, and this is my obligation.

She cooked for me, dressed me, bathed me and changed my diapers when I was a child; it’s only right that I return the favor now that the roles are reversed.

It is not easy, and when she finally dies, I will be left with no income, a run-down and crippled body of my own, and a lot of mental and emotional exhaustion. A living, breathing, limping monument to care giver stress. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Your post, like so many others,concerns me. You certainly are providing care for your mother, but at what cost? Care giver Burnout is very real. I am very concerned about your own health. Your “caring” is contributing to burnout.

There are other alternatives that would give your mom some socialization such as: adult day care for example and other community resources. Please contact me and we can discuss some other options further. You are dealing with so many, and grief may be one. Click here to assess if you are grieving 

Thank you for posting Harvey. You have a right to good health and a life. There is life after care giving. You must prepare for it now.