Caregiving and Addictions

The addictions that come because of unresolved problems, unhappiness or stress is a topic we seldom think about and rarely talk about.  My friend Mary Ann was caught up in an addiction because of taking care of two loved ones at one time.  She felt like she had no life, she felt isolated and depressed, so an addiction soon followed. She helped me write this article.

We might insist that we don’t have an addiction, and yet perhaps we do.  Some people are addicted to alcohol, others food.  Some are addicted to drugs, smoking, or gambling.  Others might be addicted to shopping excessively online.

What is an addiction?  Addiction is a condition in which a person engages in use of a substance or in a behavior for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior despite detrimental consequences.

You, as a family caregiver of a senior loved one, may be vulnerable.  You are so involved in caregiving that you put your life on hold.  When caregiving for your loved one for years, your happiness wanes and may be replaced by anger, loneliness, exhaustion, etc.  You may recognize some of these signs:

Hunger: When you are hungry either you don’t eat, or you eat excessively.

Anger: If you are feeling overwhelmed or trapped you might resent being the family caregiver, but don’t want others to know.  So, you harbor anger and resentment, letting it build up.

Lonely: Some feel isolated and alone.  Perhaps family members who promised to help, were not as committed as you.  They left you with the whole burden. You don’t know how or where to go for help.

Tired: You might feel like a 24-hour nurse.  You become tired of feeling tired.

Loss of money: Family caregiving is expensive.  Buying equipment, medication, professional caregivers or residency in a facility for your loved one may eat away at your savings.

Any of the above may drive you into an addiction. What can you do instead?

If your loved one has any type of dementia you may get involved with a respite program or a support group or our newest offering a Memory Café.  At any of these events you may bring your loved one or get a voucher through the Alzheimer’s Association for a free caregiver for the event(s) you’d like to attend.  Please call or email me.  I will be happy to give you information for the type of support you need.  I’m just a phone call away.  Bonnie Holmes, 864-916-9204 or bonnielholmes1@gmail.com .  Please don’t let yourself become overwhelmed.  I’m just a phone call away and would love to help.