Burning Out

By Doug Mayberry

November 27, 2017 4 min read

Q: My husband was diagnosed with cancer over a year ago, and I have been acting as his caretaker. I'm reaching the point where I just can't do it anymore. I love my husband but am physically and emotionally exhausted.

I'm completely burned out. When I wake up in the morning, I don't know how I'll get through the day. I love my husband and feel very guilty about my difficulty.

Can I get help?

A: Yes. Many people never expect to take care of their partners during a long-term illness and aren't prepared to do so. Additionally, many seniors have their own health issues, which makes caring for their spouse even more difficult.

When these issues hit home, we like to believe that we can handle it on our own and rise to the occasion. Marriage is a commitment where partners love and take care of each other as best they can.

Consigning yourself to misery isn't practical and will end badly in the long run. Help is available, and there's no emotional reason that should prevent you from seeking it. Acknowledge your limitations, and ask for help from family, friends or a hospice.

No man is an island, and we are lucky to be able to ask others for help. Learn to delegate and prioritize your daily responsibilities. You may be handling both your and your husband's responsibilities while he's ill, which is overwhelming. Paying bills, walking the dog and maintaining your yard and car adds to your burden. And this is on top of adjusting for his health requirements.

Being a caretaker is challenging. Only by caring for yourself can you relieve your stress and maintain your ability to care for your husband. Fulfilling your own needs will help you become a better caretaker. Finding reasons to be happy makes death less fearsome, and each moment will become special.

Move forward immediately, and ask for help. You will be pleasantly surprised to find how others will step up to the plate. — Doug


Q: Over the years, I have lost control over my garage. Now I can't park both cars inside it, as my husband is accumulating his "lifetime treasures." He's even running out of space.

I seldom complain, but I want to keep my car in good condition by parking it inside and away from exposure to the elements.

How can I bring up the topic?

A: Men generally want to have private space for themselves, and it sounds like your husband has claimed the garage as his. Giving him his own space is important, but you should be able to discuss the topic.

Ideally, you should each have control over half of the garage. To do so, you may have to allow him more control in other places in the house.

Suggest that you are open to compromise, rather than issuing an ultimatum. Tell him what your goal is, and discuss how you can make it happen. Remind him that a car is an investment and keeping it in the garage will maintain its value.

Most of all, remember to listen as much as you talk! — Emma, Doug's granddaughter

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com

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