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The Burden Of The Caregiver

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

My friend John once stayed with his grandfather on a dairy farm. Everyday he had to do his chores. It didn’t matter if it was Christmas, rain or bitter cold, the cows needed to be fed and milked. So to a caregiver is a continuous job, twenty four – seven. 

Jesus carrying his cross photoAs I write this my wife Sylvia is sitting on a chair to the left of me. Her dementia continues to get worse and she is no longer able to walk on her own. I don’t even feel she is safe is she has her walker. When she walks around the apartment on her walker I watch her very closely ready to move in and grab her for support. Several nights ago she fell in the bedroom as I slept on the couch. Ever since then I had her sleep on the couch. I sleep over her with my legs on top of her legs so she can’t get up.

I can’t risk another fall so if I have to take a shower or use the bathroom I have to put her on the floor. That way she won’t be able to fall. If she has a bowel movement I have to clean her right away. She can stand in the shower holding on to the pipe. Still it is harder to clean her. I know longer allow her to stand in the shower when I clean her but make her sit in a chair.

Still knowing all this I know that things will get worse. Sylvia will further deteriorate both physically and mentally. Already she has had episodes where she didn’t know who I was. I took her hundreds of times driving in a big circle in search of her homeland Grenada. As in the past she didn’t want to stay home now she doesn’t want to leave.

I am unable to work living off of what we have saved. In a desperate effort to make money I do my writing but I am far from reaching my goal of my art supporting my family financially. To put it simply I am waiting on a miracle from God. Sylvia spent all her life taking care of children or the elderly so I find it unconscionable that God will abandon her in her hour of dire need.

Saying all this I know that we have things a lot better than most others in this world. We have a roof over our heads in a comfortable apartment. We haven’t missed a meal. We have friends who support us in various ways. I think of those living in war torn countries or those in abject poverty. Truly this world has a multitude of evil it serves.

There is a joy in caring for somebody else. In the sacrificing of one’s own life one feels a self worth and a pleasure. Truly it is more blessed to give than receive. It is rather ironic that at the end of my life I have become the caregiver. For a good chunk of my early twenties I suffered severely from bipolar disorder. I needed others to look out for me. Now the roles have reversed. I will not pretend and think that I have things more difficult. I know Sylvia is going through something extremely hard to deal with.

I will let my faith carry me. Financial ruin doesn’t seem so bad except for two things. I wonder what would happen to Sylvia and I hate the idea that I might not be able to get my psychiatric medicine. But I do my best to push of thoughts of a dismal tomorrow to attend the tasks of today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

I would like to invite you to explore my latest book of poetry Polishing The Fragments.

Photos by Internet Archive Book Images,

The Burden Of The Caregiver

John Kaniecki

John Kaniecki is a full-time caregiver for his wife Sylvia. He is a published writer and works with the Church of Christ. John has lived with bipolar for over thirty years and has been hospitalized nine times, three of which were committed. John has chronicled his life story in his memoirs "More Than The Madness". Also of note is John's book of poetry "Murmurings Of A Mad Man" which are poems written about being committed in Graystone Psychiatric Hospital. John believes in the power of words to change the world for the better. His website can be seen here. His books can be seen on Amazon. You can visit his personal blog "Turn A Page Or Two" here.

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APA Reference
Kaniecki, J. (2018). The Burden Of The Caregiver. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 16, 2019, from


Last updated: 12 Jan 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 12 Jan 2018
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