Definition: A circumstance wherein two people adopt the opposite role of their normal one or switch normal roles.
To me the topic of role reversal is interesting because it happens to all of us living with Kennedy’s Disease. I believe this is one of the most difficult transitions in a person’s life.
Realizing that we occasionally need the help of our caregiver (spouse, significant other, family member, etc.) to perform normal daily routines, it is still difficult to accept. And, when the priorities of the caregiver have to change (especially if we fall and cannot get up without help, for example), we often experience feelings of guilt for being a burden to them.
Where we use to change a light bulb, climb the ladder to clean the gutters, mow the lawn, wash the cars, and perform other household repairs and maintenance, we now have to look to our caregiver to perform the tasks (or hire it done). This is often difficult to accept because it is natural to feel frustrated and less than adequate when we have to ask someone for help.
Even worse is when we attempt something and cannot finish the job without having to ask for help. At times like this I know it is frustrating for my wife because often she has to drop what she is doing to help me finish something that was not a priority for her. And, probably the most difficult part is that I believed I could accomplish the task … by myself … not needing her assistance.
Even if we accept that we have Kennedy’s Disease and that we are less capable, we still find it difficult to ask for help. This is especially true if we believe we are being a pain in the butt to our caregiver.
Yet, the alternatives are somewhat limited and often inconvenient. I believe the key is to recognize the importance of the task and your capabilities; then weigh that against your caregiver’s abilities, available time and her/his current priorities before beginning the project. Then weigh in how safe it is for you try to perform the task. Often, it is better to put it off or hire it done. Of course, this won’t work if you are on the floor and can’t get up.