Anne retired from her full-time position in the education system to care for her mother full-time in 2018. Her mother is currently 83 years old and has several medical conditions including atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and depression. Anne was a special education supervisor and teacher thus it made it easy for her to advocate for her mother because she advocated for others over the years. She began researching and locating the services her mother was eligible to receive. This is difficult due to the documentation necessary to submit for services, but there is help out there and this caregiver recommends that you “dig your heels in, stand firm, and continue to investigate for the good of your care receiver.”
Riding the Rollercoaster
Anne says that the biggest challenge they face is when she believes that her mother’s health has finally rebounded, something inevitably happens. The highs and lows create a “rollercoaster of caregiving,” which is difficult because as her mother grows older, she does not “bounce back” as quickly. Anne also receives no assistance or support from her family, which has created an uncomfortable family dynamic. However, she also cared for her late father, so she has experience with navigating nursing facilities.
When Anne’s mother needed a rehabilitation center, she noticed that the higher rated facilities offered to those with Medicaid are still ranked relatively low among other care facilities. She researched every facility available looking for things such as rehospitalization, bedsores, and staff changes. After selecting a facility, she visited frequently and advocated for her mother to be involved in residential communal activities held that she was not taken to before. This interaction with other people allowed her mother to thrive and she enjoyed making crafts with new friends.
Anne is also a huge advocate for self-care. She has opened her own business teaching yoga and enjoys meditation. She feels that balance is very important for a caregiver and prioritizing your health is key. It was hard to ask for help but Anne has reached the point where asking for help is okay, she says “just ask: the worst they can say is no!” She found Hope Grows through Seniors Blue Book and has begun participating in different services. She feels as though Hope Grows validates the work of caregivers. She had a wonderful time at the Celebrating You! event, which made her feel special and recognized. Anne also receives Think Caregiver phone calls and monthly grief counseling calls. They have really helped her navigate through the grief process and allowed her to recognize how this experience has made her who she is. Her best advice to other caregivers is: “caregiving is not easy but enjoys the journey. It is a blessing to be a part of the journey. You may look at it as a chore but embrace your family member for the time that you have.”