'All my life I’ve had to care for my sick mother – I feel like I don’t exist'

PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images
PHOTO: Getty Images/Gallo Images

I’m just a caregiver

Question

I’m 32 and I’ve been caring for my sick mom since I was a teenager. I have no job and no life other than looking after her. My brothers give me money to help out but they never come to visit – they say they’re too busy with their own families. I’ve never had a chance to have a family – I haven’t even had a real boyfriend for years.

My mom loves me and knows how much I do for her and she’s always telling me to go out but it’s not possible. She needs someone with her all the time. I feel useless and afraid. Sometimes I feel like I don’t exist at all.

Answer

You’re doing a good job but you must understand caring for an ill parent can be a physically exhausting and emotionally draining job. As the caregiver you will need all the support you can get. This is why there are places such as a hospice where you have access to trained professionals who can look after those who are dying.

You can also enquire about community caregivers in your area through your local clinic or department of social development. These caregivers are trained in palliative care – care for the terminally ill and their families – and would be able to support you and give you the relief you need. Good luck.

MindBodyGreen suggests that family caregivers can find themselves experiencing high levels of stress and burnout when caring for a relative. This is why it is vital to put yourself first; spending time with family as well as friends that are pleasant and encouraging. More so it is important to protect oneself from things that bring them down by practicing mindfulness.