I was the sole caregiver for both my parents in the late 1980s. Like most adult family caregivers, I struggled to tend to my husband, teen-aged son, work obligations, and ailing parents, all at once. “Sandwich generation” is an apt description of how squeezed and stressed out I had become. It helped that I was a nurse, but on a personal level, it made no difference. I still needed help and support, but at that time caregivers were an afterthought in the greater scheme of things.
Nurses were supposed to “encourage ventilation.” That translated to listening to the caregiver cry, scream, describe her problems, and otherwise let loose. Then we were to “support the family,” whatever that meant. But after all those tears and vague supports, the caregiver was still holding the bag.
As a caregiver, I still needed to find appropriate supports on my own. By the grace of God, I found an excellent licensed home care agency that was just starting up, and eager to earn a good reputation. The nurse from there saved my sanity.
Society hails family caregivers as unsung heroes. And well it should. Caregivers still leave the workplace early to tend to ailing family members, thus reducing the amount of their pension down the line. One caregiver said he owned a company but had to sell it to care for his mother. And caregiving continues to take a physical, spiritual, and emotional toll on the caregiver and those around him or her.
The good news is that there are more helps available than ever before. Granted, some resources are struggling themselves. For example, home care agencies cannot always assure their customers that the aide will be a good fit, or even turn up. We hope for the best and it’s worth the effort to keep at it to find an agency that can serve you well. At the same time, other options may replace the need for an aide, such as day care centers.
Greater Rochester Area Partnership for the Elderly
The greater Rochester area is rich in many resources, and now supports for the elderly are no exception. Years ago, few case managers or social workers knew who all was doing what. To remedy that, the Greater Rochester Partnership for the Elderly was born. GRAPE’s umbrella includes professionals, agencies, companies, etc, that serve older adults or their caregivers. I joined when I worked for the County and later re-joined to get up to speed on the current lay of the land for my Caregiving blogs. I value each meeting where I learn about who is doing what, and how to access that service for one’s clients. (In a way, my clients are the member agencies that I write about, so you know what’s out there.)
This year, GRAPE updated and reissued its 2023 Edition of The Elder Pages. This 68 page book lists 29 categories of resources for older adults and caregivers. Soup to nuts, If you have a need, you will probably find it addressed in our Elder Pages. The Elder Pages is available on-line as well at http://www.theelderpages.com/
We know many older folks don’t have, want, or know how to navigate a computer. Therefore, we are delivering physical copies of the Elder Pages to libraries and other places where older people are likely to congregate. Keep your eye out for our colorful one-stop resource for local support services.