Dear Abby: I think what “End of My Rope” (May 3) may have failed to say is that she’s tired of sacrificing her own life to care for her ill-tempered, terminally ill husband. Harsh as this may seem, it’s a fact. I have been caring for my father for eight years. He’s suffering from severe dementia and is now an invalid. I, too, provide him round-the-clock care.
My suggestion to “End” would be to talk to a respite facility about giving her a “vacation” from her husband. I do this with my father twice a year. His appreciation for the care I give him increases greatly after being in a “home.” He goes for only one week at a time, but it’s long enough for me to miss him and for him to realize I’m not so bad after all.
“End” is overwhelmed and angry right now because her husband expects so much from her. This isn’t his fault. It is normal for someone with brain cancer. If no one else is stepping up to give her the breaks she so desperately needs, then she must consider her own well-being. She must do what her heart tells her. She has my sympathy and respect for what she has done so far.
Been There, Still Doing That
Dear Been There: Thank you for writing. Many readers responded, offering suggestions gained from personal experience. Their comments:
Dear Abby: You gave “End of My Rope” helpful information about hospice care for her husband in their home, but more services are available from most hospices. In addition to doctors, nurses, home health aides and volunteers, services are provided by chaplains and social workers who offer essential emotional and spiritual support to dying patients and their families. The hospice that employs me as chaplain also provides bereavement counseling to families by professional grief counselors — at no charge — for a year after the patient’s passing.
Honored to be a Hospice Chaplain
Dear Abby: I suggest “End” call all of her husband’s friends and family. Many people offer help in times like this, but they don’t know how. Schedule assignments for sitting with her husband, preparing meals, running errands, assisting with getting him in and out of the car on appointment days, or any tasks that need to be done.
Loved ones will appreciate being asked to help in tangible ways. I urge her to take a drive or go out to lunch and leave the caretaking to a trusted friend for an hour or two. Her husband does not realize the enormous burden she carries. When she’s at her lowest, I also recommend a simple prayer asking for strength.
In Bradenton, Fla.
Dear Abby: Our dad was ill for a number of years with Alzheimer’s. We are a large family of siblings, but most lived away from our hometown. Though we were fortunate to have in-home care, the day-to-day management fell to me and one of my sisters.
As the oldest, I took it upon myself to write a straightforward letter to my siblings regarding Dad’s condition and the progression of his illness. Then I assigned consecutive weekends to each one, telling them this was their weekend to come, spend time with Dad and help with his care. I said they were free to trade weekends among themselves, but the expectation was that Dad would have his family with him every weekend until he passed.
It worked pretty well, with most siblings taking the responsibility seriously and as a chance to express their love and gratitude to Dad in his last days.
In Visalia, Calif.
Dear Abby: Did you know you do not need a physician to refer you to hospice? You can SELF-refer. However, the doctor must certify eligibility so care can begin.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.