karen

Karen Cochran Beaulieu

Dear Karen,

Over 50 years ago, my grandmother came to live with my parents. My mother, her daughter-in-law, bore all the tasks of her care. Maybe twice a year, my aunt would fly across the country to care for my grandmother for a week, so my parents could go on a much-needed vacation. Now that I’m taking care of my mother, it recently occurred to me that my mom was a caregiver for years. We both experienced responsibilities that included overwhelming stress, cognitive deficits and heartaches. Do you think others might benefit from a similar overlooked realization and use it as an encouragement? This changed my perspective!

 

Dear Reader,

Wow, thanks for sharing your important discovery, it made me take a look back in the family rearview mirror. My mother was a caregiver too! They weren’t called caregivers then and seemingly no one really comprehended the enormity of their job.

As 2021 caregivers, we travel a tough journey, but we should count our blessings. Your aunt’s care visits twice a year fell under the category of what we now refer to as respite care – short-term relief for primary caregivers. Those who have family and friends to help with caregiving are indeed blessed!

There are additional ways caregivers can find respite, regardless of the stage of one’s illness. Professional in-home care can be arranged hourly, daily or weekly. Your loved one can stay in a health care facility a few days, weeks or even months. Respite is also available for the caregiver at adult and memory care day centers. There, loved ones receive socialization, activities, meals, supervision and some medical services.

Thankfully, old-style institutions, nursing and county homes have been replaced with state-regulated, clean, safe and compassionate care facilities.

In addition, we are spoiled with the internet at our fingertips to research illnesses, facilities, care plans and services.

We have local “care for the caregiver” opportunities, such as support groups, seminars, educational books, church programs and this column that provide encouragement, suggestions and answers to questions.

We can receive ambulatory services, urgent care and hospital care in minutes. Medical advances in testing, techniques, radiation, imaging, therapy and medications are invaluable tools to help both those receiving and providing care.

As our reader suggested, adding some blessings to our personal lists may be beneficial. Although looking at the past doesn’t make our difficult job any easier, it does provide encouragement for our present and future. It reminds us of the importance of our job and that we can succeed and survive.

To all the tireless caregiver veterans in past history, thank you for serving!

 

Share your questions, challenges and successes: momentsthatmatterkcb@gmail.com. Your submission may be published; however, all submissions will be answered.  Cochran Beaulieu, a resident of Sumter County, is the author of the book, “Moments that Matter; a roadmap for caregivers and their loved ones with memory loss.”

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