The networks and cable shows have been abuzz this week with the details about the mother who abandoned her 19-year-old disabled daughter, Lynn, in the bathroom of a bar in Caryville, Tenn. with no money, identification, or belongings.
Since her daughter did not know her name or identifying details, it took a concerted effort by the local community to figure out who she was.
After searching for more than a week, the mother, Eva Cameron, was identified and summoned back to Tennessee where she relinquished her caretaking role and made Lynn a ward of the state.
And while that act was surprising at best and sickening at worst, it shines a light on the difficulties of caring for someone who is severely disabled.
Eva Cameron, of Algonquin, Ill., purposely drove to Tennessee with her daughter for the purpose of leaving her there to let the Tennessee healthcare system take care of her.
She has been caring for Lynn, who is severely handicapped and has the mental capacity of a 2- or 3-year-old, and decided she could not continue to take care for her anymore.
Ms. Cameron told authorities her church directed her to the state of Tennessee, saying they had the best healthcare system in the country.
There is no legal statue for charging Ms. Cameron with any crime since Lynn was legally an adult, though her disability obviously does not allow her to function as such.
Lynn was left in Tennessee and did end up becoming an adult ward of their state. Her mother went back to Illinois where she had other children to care for.
While her method was extreme, Ms. Cameron's actions may represent the physical and mental exhaustion that caregivers may feel.
WebMD has a term for it, calling it caregiver burnout. It is defined as "a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that may be accompanied by a change in attitude -- from positive and caring to negative and unconcerned."
Burnout can be caused by not getting the help and financial assistance that is needed and can show up as anxiety, depression, exhaustion, and fatigue.
No one knows for sure if this is what Eva Cameron was dealing with when deciding to abandon her daughter, but it is possible. Recognizing these symptoms in other caregivers could perhaps stop this situation from happening again.
MSNBC.com. Web. Published 11 July 2012. "No charges for mother who abandoned severely disabled daughter at bar."
WebMD.com. Web. 11 July 2012. "Caregiver: Recognizing burnout."
Reviewed July 12, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith