A True Clinical Story About Family Caregiving

Maximizing Function Competency

A friend whom I shall call Maria, although that is not her real name, was caring at home for her husband, who had inoperable esophageal cancer with multiple metastases. Hospice had not yet become involved in his care. Although she did not have an extended family, many of Maria's friends, including me, had offered to help.

        Drawing of a clipboard with a sign-up sheet   In an attempt to organize her support system, Maria prepared a clipboard for people to indicate what type of support they could offer. 
Drawing of plates of food, mostly fruits and vegetables  

People signed up to bring food, take the recycling, and other tasks. 

 

 Drawing of recycling bins        

 One day, I was with a group of people who were putting their names on Maria's clipboard. "Tell us what type of food to bring," said one of them. "He's a vegetarian," said Maria, "and the food needs to be soft so he can swallow it easily. But right now, he hasn't been able to keep any food down for 3 days, so don't bring any food." I looked at Maria and said, "But Maria, you need to eat. What kind of food do YOU like?" The surprised look on Maria's face told me that she, like many family caregivers, had been ignoring her own needs while focusing on caring for her husband.

To hear this story narrated by the author, use this audio link.  Drawing of a basket of fruits and vegetables

Narrated by L. Felver, Ph.D., R.N.

Maximizing Function Competency Learning Activities

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