• Caregiver won't take a break

    Asked by Spring2025 on Wednesday, April 3, 2013

    Caregiver won't take a break

    My husband has been amazing. He never left my side while I was in the hospital (slept next to me in a recliner). He takes me to all doctor appts and plans on doing the same for upcoming treatments. I want him to take time for himself but, he is committed. How can I get him to take a break from me? I have family to step in any time.

    12 Answers from the Community

    12 answers
    • AlizaMLS's Avatar

      Dear Spring 2025,

      Hi. I'm Aliza and I'm a BC patient and a Medical Librarian who's retired but keeps in practice in this site and elsewhere. I offer advice (usually non medical), referrals to doctors, hospitals/institutions, agencies, etc. and research when required or requested.

      Kudos to you for having such a devoted husband! I've been lucky as well in that my fiancé has been equally devoted, but it sounds to me, a bit like not only like you want him to have time to himself, but that you (underline you) want some "me time" as well. This is perfect legitimate!

      What I'm going to suggest for you and your husband may sound a bit different at first, but bear with me, is to phone CancerCare. The Social Workers at CancerCare are amazing! They are specifically trained to deal with the very specific needs of Cancer patients and their caregivers. This isn't like "regular therapy". No one cares about your "toilet training"...;) and no one's going to "blame your mother"...;) Each of you can get assigned to a different Social Worker and you can go there in person or have telephone sessions-your choice. My fiancé and I see CancerCare Social Workers. We recently started. I'm sorry that I didn't think of it sooner. I was diagnosed in August and had my mastectomy in December and it was afterwards that I thought of it. Before I was so wound up with medical issues. I should have remembered earlier though because they helped me 2 years earlier when my dad was dying from CLL and I was one of his caretakers. I think in your case, your husband may need "permission" from a professional to leave you alone or with a family member. Cancer is frightening. He may be afraid that if he lets you out of his sight that you won't be there when you get back. I'm no social worker, but I kind of have an understanding of how these things might work, so I know they can be really helpful.

      The other thing I'd recommend is that your husband and maybe you too if you're interested and able) start to get involved a bit in some community things, whether it's political, environmental, or joining a book group (which speaks to my heart as a Librarian...;)) If you cannot locate a book group in your area, there is an online one called www.goodreads,com. You can track your titles, find new ones, join small genre book groups, make virtual friends, write book reviews, and read others' reviews. It's a start. I love it!! I do have other ideas but I don't want to inundate you or your husband. Feel free to contact me whenever you wish either on the site or email me offsite.

      I hope things work out and both of you get to enjoy the free time you both need. If you can do that, then the time you spend together will be even better!!

      Warm Wishes,

      over 7 years ago
    • SpunkyS's Avatar

      My sister stayed with me and was very supportive. Appointments, trip to ER in the night, etc... I started slowly by telling her she was "dismissed" for the day. But then she had some place else to stay. Then I started planning with her what her day off would be for the week. I made sure that I either had someone else to cover or that I really would not need anyone. This allayed her fears. We both needed the breaks and were better for it.

      You might consider asking your husband why he won't take a break, and address his undiscussed fears. Remind him you need him to last a long time, so take a break.
      Good luck.

      over 7 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      First kudos to your DH, you are blessed to have him. I have been a caregiver as well as a patient, and being in a caregiver is way way harder.

      Let your DH know how much you appreciate all he is doing but he must take care of himself, in order to take the best care possible of you. If he doesn't take time off, he will have a melt down. I know I did, when I was a caregiver for my parents. My DH has had them too. We all need some alone time, time to do something we enjoy, time off to smell the roses as it were. Tell him the following: When you travel by plan and the stewards all ways say "If the oxygen masks come down, parents should put theirs on first, and then help their child." This is to make sure the parents are functioning and able to take care of their child/children. It's the same with being a caregiver, you need to be functioning in order to take care of me.

      You may even want to joke that he is being selfish and not allowing other family members help you since they have offered to, and would love to be part of care.

      Then go through your appointments and decide which if any he can skip, come late to, etc. DH and I did that. We decided that when I had infusions I would call him when I got to the Pod, this way we could figure out when he should come down. Some days it was just to pick me up. We also decided which doctor appointments he should be at - any one where I got a scan result, any time I saw a new doctor. We decided that I days I get my scans, he just needs to come pick me up, usually get three of them back to back, so I let him know when I'm going in to the last one, except for the CT of my chest which is the first scan, the other two take at least an hour. I am fortunate that I live only a mile from my treatment center which makes a lot of this easy to coordinate, Also I can take a Cab home if no one is available .

      over 7 years ago
    • CAS1's Avatar

      The ACS and the NCI have a wealth of information packets for caregivers. Perhaps if he read about how to take care of himself, as the care giver, he might be more open to suggestions. Sometimes the best way to get people to do something is to let them think it was their idea.
      :) :)

      over 7 years ago
    • IKickedIt's Avatar

      You are very, very blessed and fortunate. My husband was very good, but I could tell he needed a break so I helped to arrange nights out with the guys since he felt guilty to arrange them himself. While speaking to a friend, I'd ask her to have her husband call mine and say, I've got tickets to the ballgame, let's go...my wife will be here for your wife. Or let's go out for a burger and a beer. It worked, but my husband knew he needed a break. He and our youngest son had their time together at the gym. It was their escape and their release. They both treasure that time they shared. I would also encourage them to go without me and with cell phones, we were always just a phone call or text away.

      Do you sense that your husband needs a break? If so, I'd try what others have suggested. Also, I had friends who literally stepped in and took over with driving me to doctors' appointments and to chemo. They would talk to my husband and tell him that they really needed to do it for both me and themselves. My husband appreciated it and stepped aside and even had to "reserve" my last chemo date for him.

      Does he work and leave the house during the day? That may be all the break he needs. Again, is he showing signs that he needs a break (like is he stressed, more agitated than normal?) or do you need a break? If the tables were turned, I wouldn't leave his side. I thrive on being a caregiver. I need to do it, perhaps he is the same.

      over 7 years ago
    • Jray's Avatar

      That is wonderful your Hubby is so devoted and supportive! I am a caregiver for my husband. I too have slept in the hospital, managed all my husbands care I even have a notebook on his medical status. However, I found I needed to take a step back and allow some other family members to help out even if just for an hour or so here and there. I am no phychological expert by anymeans, but for me allowing others to help for the first time was like letting go... and that's a hard 1st step to take.
      But tell your amazing husband that it's ok to take a little time for him :) He may need a little (or alot) of reassurance from you that you love him and are truly fine with it!
      My first step was hiring someone to clean my house! Even though I didn't actally leave the house while they worked, me and my hubby layed in bed and ate popcorn and watched TV! That was a huge step for me and it sorta opened the door to the mindset that I could let others help and the world wouldn't come to an end!!! ...and I hadn't lost control or given up or any of those silly thoughts.
      P.S. My husband says he knows how tough it can be for you...so keep your chin up and keep in touch :)

      over 7 years ago
    • LindaD@StF's Avatar

      How blessed you are to have such a caring husband! But now, he needs to care for himself. Many husbands grieve and show their emotion by doing. It is possible that your husband is doing what he can as he works out his emotions about your cancer. He may be afraid to let you out of his sight for fear that something bad will happen.
      Does he have a good friend who can take him out for a day to break away from caregiving? let him know that you will be OK and that others are ready and willing to step in. Encourage him to do something fun without guilt because if he has no outlet, he may become overstressed and then be no good to you.
      It is possible that he is depressed. He may feel like his world (you) is threatened. It may be helpful for him to talk with a counselor or a pastor or even a good friend who has been through a similar thing.
      One thing cancer does is focus our attention on what is really important and let the rest fall away. use this time to draw closer to each other and be open to sharing feelings with each other.

      over 7 years ago
    • BrownCounty's Avatar

      I am having the same issue. My husband and daughter insist on going to all my appointments. I even had to reschedule my last appointment so my daughter could go with me! She teaches and school started the day of my scheduled appointment. She also slept by my side, wrote down every person (even cleaning people) who came in my room. I did finally run my husband off by saying I needed some things done at home before discharge (by the way, my house was beautiful and stocked with everything I could possibly need). One year this month and everything went as well as it possibly could! No new cancers although there is a nodule on my lower left that they are watching. I think if they could relax a little, it would be easier for me to relax and not have the "stigma" to identify me. I have ALWAYS gone to dr's appoints by myself and would love to get back to feeling normal. I guess I have just resigned myself -THEY ARE GOING TO BE THERE. I am blessed.

      over 7 years ago
    • Barbs' Avatar

      As a caregiver, I understand the feelings your husband may be experiencing. I can't even walk out on the porch if my husband is not feeling well -- afraid something bad will happen while I am out there enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. My entire family wants to come and help, but what is there for them to do? -- hold his head while he vomits? -- try to find something he can eat? -- tuck his blankets in when he's freezing? -- wipe his face and back when he's sweating? He doesn't want others to see him in his current state of weakness and pain. I can't even THINK of not going to one of his appointments -- what if I missed some important information of instruction? Cancer makes us feel that we are losing control -- the small things we can do to make our loved one more comfortable, at the least, help return some of that control. Yes, we do get tired, and sometimes feel so helpless and alone -- but being a caregiver means never having to say "I'm sorry I didn't do my best for you". If I were the one carrying cancer in my body, he would be there for me, every step of the way -- I am sure you would be too, for your husband. Let him do what he can.

      over 7 years ago
    • debwadham's Avatar

      I have not had surgery yet........May 16 th....... Have great family and friends , have several including husband , where are already hovering . I have always been the care giver by nature hard for me to receive help. They feel like because they help me have to try and help . At this point. I can do for myself , made my husband go back to work , and made clear need no help now, still try but put my foot down , you are very blessed to have the love of your husband ! It is his way of coping with your cancer .

      over 7 years ago
    • Spring2025's Avatar

      Thank you all for your insights and great suggestions. There is a lot of good stuff here for me to use. I'm overwhelmed with the number of you "out there" going thru this with me. Thank you kindly.

      over 7 years ago
    • HeidiJo's Avatar

      My husband was exactly the same way, he was wonderful and when I encouraged him to take a break, he said, "if you can't take a break, then I won't either" That is a wonderful thought, but I needed him healthy and fully charged. When the opportunity ame for him to go out of town for the day with family, I made sure 2 of my friends would be available. then I encouraged him to go. He was hesitant at first, but went and came back recharged.

      over 7 years ago

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