CAREGIFTED is an amazing story. Heather McHugh, poet/author of eight volumes of poetry, a book of essays and other published writings is the Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington. In 2009 she received an MacArthus Fellows Program award – an unrestricted $500,000 five-year fellowship given to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits. There are absolutely no strings attached, and Heather has used her money to found CAREGIFTED. CAREGIFTED helps “enabling angels” – the weariest of caregivers: ones who have been at it for more than a decade, and who have had to give up their own professions, ambitions, income, wishes and needs for the duration, and for the sake of others. Over a 2-year pilot program, the organization hopes to provide week-long all-expense-paid fully – concierged getaways (transportation, lodging, food etc) for 24 exhausted people unlikely ever to be able otherwise to take such a break.
As a caregiver myself, I luckily have had the chance for respite. However, this thoughtful and inspiring program helps to recharge and re-inspire a caregiver who otherwise NEVER gets time off (or any pay for) his or her work at home with disabled loved ones. What other ways can caregivers get a break? Any ideas to share? written by Norma
I was recently reminded by someone offering some advice on why I was always so exhausted, that I am my parent’s daughter – not their caregiver. I had unconsciously slipped into a role of servitude, running myself ragged between taking them to doctor’s appointments, managing their medications and doing their shopping. Was it that lingering childhood need to prove myself or to assuage some kind of guilt? After much introspection, I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and take action!
My parents are in a retirement home and for an additional $55 a month each, a nurse on the premises will handle the reordering of pills and fill a pill box for each of them weekly, taking over all of the responsibility attached to the nearly 20 different medications they take between the two of them. This enormously time consuming responsibility is now in her hands. I realized that it was one of the best investments that could be made – $110 a month to preserve my sanity, health, marriage and work load. For an extra $30 once a week, I could have someone do their grocery shopping.
The difference? Now I can spend quality time visiting my Dad and Mom. I am much more relaxed, able to enjoy their company and focus on what they are saying. Be kind to yourself and assess who you really want to be. Sometimes help is right in front of you and all you need to do is take advantage of it. Has anyone out there had this problem???
Today Show co-host Meredith Vieira interviewed Dale Atkins, author of ”I’m OK, You’re My Parents” along with Amy Goyer from AARP. The show aired on Tuesday morning, July 20th and covered many sensitive points concerning care of your aging parents, while maintaining their dignity. Along with a montage of personal photos, Atkins shared the impact of moving her parents both on them & herself. She brought into focus the success of teamwork when siblings work together & divide responsibilities. The video is compelling, a MUST VIEW and we look forward to picking up her book.
Caring for Aging Parents – Today Show – July 20, 2010
I am the sole caregiver of my 93 year old deaf and blind father. That sounds like it is a rock pile, but he is about the liveliest “deaf and blind guy” (his words) one could imagine. He is frail and unsteady, but engaging and cognitively intact.
Last week my phone rang, and I had that immediate “oh NO” reaction when I saw it was from the nurse at his independent living facility. He had been dizzy during the night and was on his way to the emergency room via ambulance.
I have been to the emergency room many times with my father. Each time he becomes the darling of the ER while I act as his interpreter and advocate. I become exhausted while he gets energized. The nurses think he is cute; the practitioners want his attitude towards aging. Everyone sees an inspiration. I see a long exhausting day or evening in front of me.
But this time, I didn’t go to the ER. For the first time in the 5 years he’s been out here, I didn’t take him or meet him there. I felt terrible, a bad daughter. I know some day the trip to the ER will be the last trip. But not this time. I had a very full work day, and put that first.
I felt a great sense of relief when the nurse called me several hours later to ask how my father was going to get home. “Taxi?”, I said tentatively. An hour later my father called me to say he was home. They couldn’t find anything wrong. A bullet dodged!
We are building this blog the old fashioned way – one friend at a time! Please join in the conversation. Contribute a post, sharing the gifts and challenges that concern you most about providing care to aging loved ones. Also, comment on other posts and send another person to our site. (Note: please limit posts to 500 words or less.)