Becoming a caregiver


From a pretty early age of four and a half, I’ve lived and been surrounded in an environment where family caregiving is just something that was always normal. So I guess I started as a caregiver when I was five, and by that I mean the experience of watching family deal with a severe brain injury was something that has always been around me. When I was a young lad, I would be sent into my mother’s room at the time whenever she was getting worked up or anxious. Looking back now, I think I understand why, and I think that’s why I say my caregiving days started at that time, because even though I didn’t know it then, what I was doing –or what the thought was—is that for whatever reason I could calm her down. And so my maternal grandparents would, like I said, send me into her room whenever she was getting worked up or anxious and, and for whatever reason it calmed her down. 

As the older I got and the more we lived with the trials and tribulations of her illness, I was actively involved wherever I could be, because I wanted to be. And even through university, every opportunity I could get to offer respite to my grandparents, I would.  And really, [it] wasn’t until I finished my education or my first whack of education, that I then became ‘weekend respite’, or ‘vacation respite’ for—at the time—my grandparents. As they got progressively older and my mother’s condition changed, they were less able to provide some of the basic ADL support that she needed, whereas I had finished schooling in therapy. So, I was able to step into that role on a more formal basis. I guess when my grandfather passed away, that was […] our acute crisis in our family caregiving set up, because my grandmother couldn’t do it on her own, and my mom’s needs were such that we had to have a better plan in place.

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