Friday, May 8, 2009

Who are the caregivers?

Posted by Leona Bergstrom

Who are caregivers?
There are the obvious ones we all know and recognize. They are wives or husbands of very ill persons who are considered “shut-in” or homebound. They may provide 24-hour care, may utilize formal services and are connected with the social and health care network.

But there are others. There are those who are holding down full-time jobs and trying to provide personal care or perform housekeeping and home maintenance chores for aging relatives. They may be buying groceries, mowing the lawn or cleaning the house. These are hidden caregivers. Then there are those in the “sandwich generation” caring for both aging parents and their own children at the same time. Or grandchildren!

And there are people like us – long distance caregivers. We’re trying to guess what’s needed, intervene when appropriate, and hope that things don’t go unnoticed. We hover when we visit and worry when we are away.

This week I experienced both responses. We went to Phoenix and hovered over parents who don’t seem to understand the vital importance of simply organizing their medications in a pillbox. We hovered until they placed each pill in the appropriate day and time section. Today my own mom fell. More x-rays, more uncertainty. With 1,200 miles between us, there is not much I can do. Of course I worry.

Next week I’ll talk about the first “stage” of caregiving and what things we can begin to put in place to support our loved ones.
(Photo by psyberartist, shared via Flickr)

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