Caregiver stress takes center stage in wake of Nacogdoches Co. w - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Caregiver stress takes center stage in wake of Nacogdoches Co. woman's death

Janis Robertson holds a bell her late husband would ring when he needed her help.  (Source: KTRE Staff) Janis Robertson holds a bell her late husband would ring when he needed her help. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Jack Robertson was cared for everyday by his wife until his death in September. (Source: KTRE Staff) Jack Robertson was cared for everyday by his wife until his death in September. (Source: KTRE Staff)
Social worker Anna Donihoo knows the warning signs of caregiver fatigue. (Source: KTRE Staff) Social worker Anna Donihoo knows the warning signs of caregiver fatigue. (Source: KTRE Staff)
NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) -

Fire fighters found 61-year-old Margi Goff dead with a gunshot wound to the chest. Her common-law husband, 65-year-old Hal Parris was rescued alive. He was an invalid.

Goff was his primary caregiver.

Investigators say Goff had been depressed recently and had mentioned committing suicide to her husband, which brings up the important issue of “caregiver stress.”

East Texas News looked into the all-too-common warning signs.

Janis Robertson rang a bell to illustrate what she heard over and over again during the months she cared for her terminally ill husband, Jack Robertson.

“Even in the middle of the night, he would ring the bell, and I would know it was time to get up and go,” Janis said.

Janis was a willing primary caregiver until her husband's death in September, but the role was very demanding.

“At one point, I was getting up every four hours to give him meds during the night, feeding him, and really doing just about everything,” Janis said.

The responsibility can lead to caregiver fatigue. A social worker for Hospice of East Texas knows the warning signs.

“People can start to have problems with stress, anxiety, depression,” said Anna Donihoo, a social worker for Hospice of East Texas. Some of the specific signs might be fatigue, irritability, change in appetite, change in sleep, having trouble getting along with each other."

Burnout can often be prevented if the caregiver remembers to take care of themselves.

“Maybe taking a few short breaks throughout the day,” Donihoo said. “Simply walking outside, taking a fresh breath of air, taking a nap."

Janis had a favorite chair where she rested, read and reflected. Luckily lots of friends and family helped out. She advises all caregivers.

“They have to reach out to somebody,” Janis said.

As a former caregiver, Janis knows how difficult it is to ask for and accept help. So Tuesday, Janis was working on a different approach.

“I need to step up to the plate and actually go in and help, not just call and offer, but actually go and do,” Janis said.

It's a noble offer because the ring for help isn't always heard.

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