The New York Times: The Quiet Rage of Caregivers

“Ann Brenoff didn’t worry when her dogs returned from a walk without her husband in 2015. He often dropped their leashes and let them race up the steep driveway to their home in the canyons of Los Angeles. “But after 20 or 30 minutes, we said ‘OK, where’s Dad?’” said Ms. Brenoff, 73, whose two children were then teenagers.

They found him lying at the bottom of the driveway. He had collapsed walking up the street and crawled home. Ms. Brenoff’s husband was soon diagnosed with acute kidney failure and needed round-the-clock care.

Three times a week, she made the hourlong drive to his dialysis appointments or arranged for someone else to take him. She cooked separate meals so he could follow a special diet, and squared off daily with their health insurance company. She learned that a bit of Vicks VapoRub under her nose helped mask certain odors as her husband’s condition deteriorated.“You wake up one day and realize you’re not a partner and a wife anymore,” Ms. Brenoff said. “You’re a full-time medical case manager.” She stopped seeing friends and gained 20 pounds. Her blood pressure climbed.

And she got really angry.

Around 53 million Americans are caregivers for a family member or friend with a health issue or disability, and nearly a third spend 20 or more hours a week in that role. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which calls caregivers the “backbone” of long-term home care in the United States, has warned that caregivers face many risks — anxiety and depression, chronic health conditions and financial strain, to name just a few. Yet experts said many caregivers feel they cannot speak openly about their frustration and anger.”

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