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Everyday some 25 million Americans provide care for someone they love who is sick or frail. These four individuals shared with us their personal experience of caring for a sick or dying loved one and told us what their lives are truly like.
 
on finding support

photo of Janet Chin Janet Chin cared for her mother who died of stomach cancer.

My family and friends really kicked in, and my mother's sisters and cousins came from all over to provide me some help, because one person cannot do it. I was a workaholic. It's hard to be a workaholic now. Work is definitely not the high priority that it was and my career is not the priority that it was.
running on empty

photo of Jan McCormack

Jan McCormack cared for her sister, for fourteen years, until she was placed in a nursing home. Her sister was suffering from a brain tumor.

I remember during a particularly difficult time when I was caring for her I went to get gas. I had parked my car and was going to the little kiosk to pay for my gas. I turned around and I saw my car headed toward the gas pump. I raced toward the car, got the door open, and was able to jump in and slam the brake on just before I hit the gas pump. I just sat in the car and cried for about thirty minutes.

What that told me was that all my emotional reserves were gone. Things that you normally do and take for granted go away: that you know how to put the parking brake on and put your car in park. You have to pay attention to the tiniest details. I think that's part of the toll caregiving takes on the family.

on caring for her mother

photo of Mary Ann Thyken Mary Ann Thyken has cared for her mother for the last four years. Her mother has Alzheimer's disease and no longer recognizes her.

It's still my mother in there. My mother's feelings are still there. She is still a sweet and lovely person. The fact that she doesn't remember me or doesn't really remember having five children: there are times when you just wish she could. You just wish you had her back. So this is my mother. It is not the same mother I had ten years ago, but to me, she is still my mother.
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on men as caregivers

photo of Larry Faulks Larry Faulks is caring for his mother who has a slow growing cancer.

One of the issues for me has always been, I'm a male. And males traditionally are not caregivers, so I don't get this social support. I've had friends literally laugh at me because I take care of my mother, so it's really difficult outside of the support group to maintain a sense of, okay, I'm going through this, and I'm going to be safe and sane.

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