Kelly cares for her 77-year-old mother who suffers from arthritis. After a shoulder replacement, her mother’s need for care increased but was challenging due to an hour-long commute between residences. This weighed on Kelly and made her very worried. If she called her mother and there was no answer, she would imagine the worst.
Kelly experienced an increase in anxiety when COVID-19 emerged. On top of the general pandemic concerns, she worried about her high-risk mother contracting the virus. The worry made it difficult for her to focus on her daily tasks. She and her husband decided it was time to make a change when the house across the street from theirs went up for sale – a small, single-story home that would be easy for her mother to maintain. As Kelly began preparing to move her mother, she felt overwhelmed with the process of navigating her mother’s Medicaid and other services for low-income seniors.
Caregiving as a Worry Warrior
The hardest part of Kelly’s caregiving journey has been the worry that accompanies it. The physical distance inhibited her caregiving ability. Once the worry of being so far away was alleviated, she experienced a new wave of worry while trying to navigate and locate services with the fear that her mother’s already low income would suffer after the move. Kelly’s best advice to other caregivers who struggle with worry, or her fellow “worry warriors,” is to pay attention to yourself and your needs. “When the worry consumes you and is interfering with your daily responsibilities, it is critical to be self-aware and seek help. We get so used to thinking we can or should do everything ourselves, but it is okay to ask for help. And it’s okay to take time to care for yourself. I’m learning that I can help others more with a greater sense of joy in my heart if I am taking care of myself. Without self-care, it becomes more of a “have-to” than a “want to.”
Strength from Support
Kelly believes that Hope Grows is such a valuable asset for all, especially if you cannot afford therapy or counseling and feel as though you lack support. Communications such as emails are a simple reminder to breathe for a moment and the Think Caregiver calls are wonderful and incredibly helpful. She says, “Even if you miss the call, there is something comforting about getting a voicemail and hearing a message from a caring Hope Grows team member. One of the most beautiful things that Hope Grows has done is create a community of caregivers that you can plug into whenever you want with no extra pressure. Being a part of this community doesn’t require you to add to an already busy schedule.”
She first got involved with Hope Grows through her consulting work with Hope Grows founder, Lisa Story. She assisted heavily in creating communications for Hope Grows for several years after its founding and continues to stay involved today! She loves to visit Hope Grows because there is something so special about the property and the mindful, intentional design of the house, property, and gardens. When you’re there, you know that each space was created with intention. If you have not experienced the healing of nature, come to Hope Grows and you can truly feel it, it is extraordinary. Kelly is looking forward to the opening of the Iris Respite House because it is another way that Hope Grows is innovating and taking its commitment to caregivers to another level.