Caregiver Story | 11/24/21

Becoming a Caregiver Overnight

A caregiving journey often begins unexpectedly.

Sara became a caregiver unexpectedly to her husband Sam, who suffered a stroke. She’s only 57. They both were working full time and seemed to be in good health. Her story, shared here, is not uncommon, although her identity has been redacted.

How did you become a caregiver?

It happened out of the blue! Sam and I are only in our late 50’s and were regular walkers. We’ve always tried to stay healthy. So, when he had a stroke, I had no idea where to start. His recovery is going well, but I was overwhelmed with questions. He’s my partner in all things and the fear of losing him was devastating.

Becoming a caregiver can happen overnight. Talking with loved ones no matter what age you are, and letting them know your wishes, can provide them with a roadmap when they need it most.

Jennifer, Carallel Care Advocate

How are you caring for Sam?

He’s in an in-patient rehab center. Our apartment is on the third floor, and though I felt guilty about it, there was no way to bring him straight home from the hospital. I try to visit him every day but it’s difficult since I work, too. We use FaceTime to chat when I can’t be there. It really keeps his spirits up when we see each other — mine too.

Much of my time is spent figuring out how to get him home. I need to make sure the apartment is safe for him. He’ll need physical therapy to continue to get better. We may even have to find a new apartment without so many stairs. It’s hard to make plans when I don’t know what condition he will be in when he comes home.

Are there aspects of caregiving that you find challenging?

Mostly I find myself wondering how this happened, and if I am doing the right things.

  • Is Sam okay in rehab? Is he getting the best care?
  • Will things ever get back to how they were before?
  • Who do I hire to help him and how will we pay for it?
  • What will happen if he can’t go back to work again?

I wish Sam and I had talked about what to do before there was an emergency. But I’m grateful to have access to a Care Advocate helping me start planning for the future. It’s such a relief to have someone to help guide us through this!

Here are some ways caregivers can get help:

Find out who your case manager or social worker is at the hospital or care center, and how they can help you and your loved one.

Talk to the doctor for referrals on in-home care, equipment, and therapies.

Have conversations and plan in advance so your family knows your wishes in case of an emergency. 

Check with your employer about any programs you may be eligible for like disability, caregiver leave and more.

Get support! Reach out to your community, family, and friends, and let them help you.

The latest from Carallel

Caregiver Question

I couldn't help but notice that it looked like his car had been in a Nascar race.

DEAR CARALLEL: My dad is 81 years old. He’s a happy guy. Still works out a few times a week and goes to coffee just about every morning....

Caregiver Question

Medication is so expensive! What can I do to lower my costs?

DEAR CARALLEL: My husband and I are retirees in our mid to late 70’s and all things considered, we’re in pretty good health. We have...

Caregiver Journey Webinar

A Caregiver Conversation by Carallel: A Guide to Palliative Care

But palliative care, a frequently misunderstood (and underutilized) form of medical care can help....