Losing Myself in Caregiving

After I moved across the country to care for my parents, more than five years ago, I put my heart and soul — to say nothing of my energy and time — into my role as a caregiver. As many of you know, it’s an all-consuming responsibility, one that can soon overwhelm your sense of self. For me, I felt my identity slipping away. I feared I’d lost myself in caregiving. So I thought about who I really am and why …

A Caregiver’s Precious Last Gift From Her Big Sister

She carried me when I was tired. She protected me when other kids were picking on me. She introduced me to new experiences and music, from dancing to the Beatles in 1964 in our West Lafayette, Ind., living room to my first Grateful Dead concert in 1968 — where she lifted me to the stage so I could dance with the band — to the music of Keith Jarrett in 1982. When I entered those tumultuous teenage and young adult years …

5 Holiday Tips From Caregivers for Caregivers

The holidays can be a time of family, fun and joy — but for family caregivers, these special occasions often include added stress as they continue helping their mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and other loved ones. We recently shared some holiday tips for family caregivers on the AARP Advocates Facebook page — and many of our friends chimed in with their own suggestions. Here’s what they had to say: 1. Keep it simple. Kate: “Do not overbook your schedule.” Dianne: …

A Juggling Act: Work and Caregiving

When her mother’s dementia progressed, Jamie from Alabama stepped up to help her remain at home. She is one of the 42 million Americans who give their hearts as family caregivers every day, helping older parents, spouses or other loved ones live independently, with dignity. “We all pitched in to help,” Jamie said. “In the early years, it was possible for us to take turns having her stay in our homes for several months at a time. Her illness had …

During the Holidays, Let’s Remember Family Caregivers

It’s that time of year when millions of families begin enjoying new scents from the kitchen, the excitement and anticipation from the children, and the sights and sounds of celebration and merriment from multiple directions. But the hustle and bustle of the holidays can be especially difficult for those caring for a loved one who is almost totally dependent on them. In fact, about 42 million people around the United States are totally or partially responsible for a family member who …

Caregiving Crosses Political Lines

At kitchen tables across America, real families are confronting the same question: How will we care for Mom and Dad (or another loved one) if something happens and they can’t take care of themselves? When my mother’s health declined, I served as her best friend, her adviser, her house manager and her hospital Sherpa. I am not alone. Every family caregiver has a personal story to tell — which is why caregiving is one of those rare issues that cross geographic …