Which factor do you feel has the most impact on family members? This is a difficult question for me to answer. Being a hospice nurse, I see on a daily basis, the impacts of chronic illness on family members. I would have to say that in my experience, depending on their situation, one topic may have a greater impact than for other families. I have also found that the impact of one often leads to impacts by others. For example, children, who often live out of state, have to take time off of work to care for their ill parents. This in turn leads to financial strain as well as their family feeling neglected. If the patient requires around the clock care, then the carer because socially isolated as well as physically exhausted.
The physical exhaustion is something I see frequently due to the medicine regimen in the active dying phase of life. Often, the patient needs to be medicated every two hours and if there is only one caregiver that person does not get enough rest. This can lead to physical and emotional strain.
On a personal note, my mother cared for her mentally challenged sister for five years after my grandmother passed. She was very socially isolated because they didn’t leave the house much. I could see my mother because more depressed and having a shorter temper. I would try to help by staying with my aunt while my mother got out of the house but she always felt guilty and never stayed gone long. Now that my aunt has passed, my mother is volunteering and sitting with patients in hospice to allow their families that much needed time away. She has been an asset to these families because she can help them on a personal level.