Carolyn was ready to enjoy retirement, and after recovering from a surgery, she started planning her travels. For years, she took care of her family and was looking forward to some time for herself.
Suddenly, her husband passed away, followed by her father not long after. Shortly after that, it became apparent her mother could no longer live alone so Carolyn became her full-time caregiver.
“Six months after I had surgery, my mother came to live with me. It was just overwhelming,” Carolyn said. “Taking care of my mother – most trying experience of my life. But when I came [to BakerRipley] – I met people who were going through the same thing I was. And I realized I wasn’t alone.”
BakerRipley Senior Services offers various programs and resources not only for older adults, but also for caregivers, too. Unpaid caregivers typically take care of an older family member over the age of 50 – like a parent, sibling or spouse.
“Most women – all of their lives – have worked hard and taken care of everyone. So we saw retirement as a time that would be for us. Now we are taking care of moms, kids, and babies. I think we grieve that,” JoAnn said, who is also caring for a family member.
While attending the Stress-Busting Program for Family Caregivers, Carolyn met JoAnn and MaryAnn. All three are caregivers for a loved one.
“I think also then we grieve the loss of our parents. My mother was a hero in my life, and she’s lost so many of her faculties, and she’s no longer the person I knew,” JoAnn said. “I’m grieving that, I feel sorry for myself – it’s hard.”
More than eight in ten caregivers say they could use more information and help on caregiving topics – both on keeping their loved one safe at home and managing their own stress. At BakerRipley family members can attend classes focusing on coping skills and self-care techniques that help reduce stress.
Our team offers telephone consultations about care options and referrals to community services so caregivers know what’s available to them. We also host educational seminars, stress management courses and support groups.
“To live with someone who can’t decide for themselves, so you have to take care of every inch of the day for them it’s exhausting,” Carolyn said. “There were other people here who shared their stories, we could vent and we could say how we felt without being judged.”
We recognize that family members are the backbone of the care system when older adults need help to remain living in their own homes and neighborhoods.
Katie Scott, our Senior Director of Dementia and Caregiving, likes to quote former first lady Rosalyn Carter when discussion caregiving:
“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”
“Using the term caregiving can be challenging because most caregivers don’t identify themselves as caregivers. You have to tell them, you are a caregiver,” Katie explains. “They say, ‘I’m just caring for my mom, that’s what I’m supposed to do. But they need support too. We really want to look how we support the whole family.”
BakerRipley’s caregiver support specialist also visits businesses and gives consultations to employees about the resources available to them.
“To me, this is a place of comfort. That’s why I came,” Carolyn said. “The classes that they had were informative, it’s a place full of resources – it’s a place of refuge for me.”
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