The Most Important Lesson I Learned Alongside A Caregiver
Being a caregiver can often leave you feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and without all the answers. This article will highlight all of the resources and the welcoming community that AARP has created!
I will never forget the moment when my mother declared, to the doctors and nurses surrounding my grandmother in the hospital, that she wanted to take her home rather than place her in a hospice care facility. That was one of the most selfless and courageous decisions I have ever witnessed her make. To take on the full time care of her ailing mother so that she could spend her final weeks surrounded by people she loved… that is pure love and sacrifice! During those last few months with my grandmother, I learned so much about how much goes into caring for an aging parent and I have an immense appreciation for any person that chooses to take on that role. While it was easy to see what a physical and emotional toll it took on my mother as she cared for my grandmother… it was the isolation that I remember the most. I wish I had known there were many resources out there for my mother so that she didn’t feel so alone. My hope in writing this article is that someone will come across it and connect with the message, then take advantage of the resources so that they can find community in being a caregiver.
Did you know that there are more than 40 million family caregivers every single year that provide unpaid care for aging parents, spouses, aunts, uncles, friends, or other loved ones? They do this so that their loved one can live independently at home, where they want to be. Caregivers do far more than I think many realize. They assist with their loved ones daily tasks such as eating, dressing, bathing and transportation. Then there are the medical and nursing tasks that those caregivers take on. There are also about 3.7 million caregivers that provide care to a child under 18 because of a medical, behavioral or other condition or disability. That is a very large number of people out there and many may find themselves in the same boat that my mother did… alone in this caregiver journey.
AARP is an organization that helps support the unsung family caregivers. They help to connect caregivers to relevant resources and provide them with expert content related to their most common needs (planning, legal, financial, and support), and to advocate on their behalf in the state and national arena. They understand that there are caregivers often working 40+ hours a week at a full time job while also spending 20-25 hours per week caring for an aging or ill loved one. They understand that those same caregivers are then having to juggle their own personal lives and that they are over-worked. AARP is committed to providing tools and resources to help those caregivers so they don’t get burnt out.
I remember all to well trying my best to help my mother as she cared for my grandmother, myself and my three siblings. To this day she apologizes to me because she feels like she wasn’t there for me enough during that time because she was so burnt out from being a caregiver. I wish that my mother had these resources back then so that she didn’t live with regret from her time as a caregiver.
So what type of resources can you expect from AARP? Let’s take a look!
Care Guides: These care guides offer in-depth, step by step information to help a caregiver deal with a particular situation, whether it’s getting started or dealing with the person they’re caring for being far away, etc. There are currently 5 guides:
- Help for First Time Caregivers
- Help Caring for a Loved One at Home
- Help for Long-Distance Caregivers
- Help for Common Caregiving Conflicts
- Help Caring for a Loved One with Dementia
- Help Caring for a Loved One with Cancer
Online Community: This is where caregivers can connect and share stories or ask questions of experts. There is a Q&A Tool where they can get answers to common questions for caregivers. There is also a Find Senior Care Costs tool that will allow them to easily find and compare care options in their area.
So what was the most important lesson I learned alongside a caregiver? It was that you are never alone and that you don’t have to feel that way as a caregiver. There are many people out there to connect with and resources to take advantage of so that you don’t find yourself isolated and disconnected from the world. If you or someone you know is a caregiver, I highly encourage you to connect with AARP because they are the recourse you need to be a happier caregiver that not only cares for their loved one, but cares for them self.
I received compensation from AARP in return for my honest review of their materials. The views expressed here are my own and were not influenced by AARP or its affiliates.