Search Site
Caregiver Stress- A Caregiver Story

About a year ago a very nice couple came to see me to discuss long term care planning. Both were dressed nicely and as I introduced myself, the husband told me that his wife had dementia so she might not understand everything being said during the meeting. She was very pleasant and said hello and sat and listened quietly to our conversation.

During our meeting we discussed at her needs, and I learned that her husband was providing a lot of assistance to his wife. He told me he picked out her clothes and helped her dress, and even did her makeup! She looked great and the two of them were going out to lunch after our meeting.

Fast forward to a few months ago. The husband called to make an appointment and this time he did not bring his wife. He hired a sitter for her as it was no longer easy to take her out. When he arrived, he looked very different from the last time I saw him. His eyes were red and ringed with dark circles and he had aged at least 5 years.

By this time, he was not only doing all his wife’s self-care, he was also doing all the cleaning, shopping, bill paying, home maintenance, juggling doctors’ appointments, and getting very little sleep. His wife’s dementia had progressed. His once sweet smiling wife had become an angry, non-compliant patient and was sundowning (a condition that causes her to sleep during the day and stay awake at night). Afraid to leave her roaming the home at night, he tried to catch little naps when she was sleeping during the day, while still attending to the chores associated with caring for someone with advanced dementia.

My client was suffering from caregiver stress to the point of collapse. While his wife was getting all her needs met, he clearly was not. As he described how much he wanted to care for her at home, he also described his sleepless nights, trouble eating, and bouts of depression that worried him. Who would take care of his wife if he couldn’t?

So, what legal advice did I give my client? None. He didn’t need me to be a lawyer, he needed me to be the counselor, the source of information, and the person to tell him that he had done enough and that he needed help. It was with a sense of relief that he agreed.

We discussed how to apply for in home assistance to alleviate his workload, and what to do when the time came for her move to assisted living dementia care or skilled nursing.

I provided him the information for calling the Area Agency for Aging and I explained about the wait list for services at home in Florida. I coached him on how he should answer questions. The biggest mistake caregivers make is sugar coating the reality of day to day life caring for a person with advanced dementia. I told him to describe your worst day. Tell them honestly about your lack of sleep, and how you feel guilty that you can’t continue to do this alone, how you feel angry sometimes at the life you imagined at this point in your life and the life you have, and how you sometimes wish you could run away and forget all this. We talked about all of this and I assured him that all those feeling were normal in this situation and to be expected.

I gave him information of a local caregiver support group that would provide adult day care for his wife so he could attend. There he could not only get support from other caregivers, but tips and strategies for dealing with the stress.


A few weeks later he called to tell me, that after going through the screening process, his wife received services at home within two weeks. He received 25 hours of services a week allowing him time to go shopping alone (a treat he said), have lunch with a friend, or take an uninterrupted nap, and not worry about his wife for a few hours.

Caregiver stress is very real and can significantly affect the health of the caregiver, sometimes to the point that they become ill themselves. My best non-legal advice to every caregiver is to take care of themselves first. Like the flight attendant says,  put your oxygen mask on first before you help others.

If you or someone you know is suffering from caregiver stress, please reach out and ask for help.  Click this link for a Caregiver Stress Test for yourself or for someone you know.


Client Testimonials
  • "In October 2009, my fiancé (and future wife) and I wanted to have estate documents prepared. Upon the recommendation of friends, we contacted an elder law firm in Sarasota, FL. We were assigned to Teresa K. Bowman, an estate planning and elder law attorney. Over the course of several months, she helped us to develop and refine our documents to our exact specifications and requirements, with our complete satisfaction. During the next few years, various modifications to our documents were required, and she helped us to implement these changes, always with absolute professionalism and precision, and with a warm, friendly manner. Incidentally, Teresa Bowman, serving in the role of Justice of the Peace, presided over our wedding ceremony in May, 2010. It was the first wedding ceremony she had ever performed, so we trust that it is just as memorable an event for her as it was for us. In 2014, when Teresa Bowman established her own Estate Planning and Elder Law practice, we, of course, transferred our accounts to her new firm. She has since implemented additional modifications to our estate documents, with the same high level of service that we have come to expect and appreciate. We would have absolutely no reservations in recommending Teresa Bowman and her firm to anyone who has need of the services she renders." - Robert G. and Judith L. Hores

Awards & Achievements
Reviews & Ratings
  • google

    I have been lucky enough to work with Teresa and her team with several clients and find her service and advise to be consistently of the highest of standards. She is a pleasure to deal with and nothing is ever too much trouble for her. I cannot recom...

    Read more

    rob galkoff

  • google

    Teresa is easy to talk to and is understanding of the situation brought to her. I would highly recommend her for your legal representative.

    Read more

    Theresa Wheeler

  • google

    Teresa and Paula have been helping us with setting up a POA and all of our mother’s paperwork and will be filing for Medicaid for her for us. They really are very helpful and explain things in laymen’s terms.

    Read more

    Beth Williams

  • google

    Great team to work with. Questions answered in layman's terms!

    Read more

    Rita Zuchelli

  • lawyers

    Teresa Bowman and her entire team were very easy and pleasurable to work with. Every question was answered in an non-condescending manner and discussed thoroughly in layman's terms.

    Read more


See all reviews
Contact us

Quick Contact Form