39 States and Counting: Caregiving Across State Lines

I was a long-distance caregiver for my parents for nearly 15 years. Through illness, surgery and rehabilitation, I helped them stay out of institutional care, like a nursing home, and instead remain at home – where they wanted to be. During this time, I purchased my house on Cape Cod in Massachusetts with my parents in mind – hoping that Mom and Pop could come to the Cape from New York, enjoy time by the seashore, and get some rest and …

5 Tips for Family Caregivers

I recently spent a weekend with eight of my college roommates for our annual get-together. Through the years we’ve always shared our life events, so it came as no surprise that our conversation turned to the topic of family caregiving. Like millions of fiftysomething women in the U.S. today, my former roomies are struggling to navigate the health care system on behalf of their parents – who now turn to them for help. “Information is power,” I told them. “So let …

Help for Family Caregivers

While traveling to Erie, Pa., for a town meeting on family caregiving, I was reflecting on my family roots. A little more than 100 years ago, my Lithuanian grandparents immigrated to America and made Shenandoah, Pa., their first hometown. My grandfather worked in the coal mines and my grandmother, fluent in six languages, worked various jobs while raising five children – one of whom was my mom. My grandparents taught me about hard work and perseverance, and my parents taught …

Sometimes Family Caregivers Need a Break

Every day for eight years, my Pop provided hands-on care for my mom, who faced a number of physical challenges.  At age 90, Pop was still helping Mom out of bed into her wheelchair, bathing and dressing her, making the meals, and doing the dishes, laundry and anything else that needed to be done. A few times a week, Pop would get out of the house for a trip to the grocery store and a few staples like bread, milk …

Family Ties

Q: How (and when) do I tell a dating partner about my difficult family situation? I haven’t dated in a long time (I’m 59, never married). This is partly due to being a caregiver – first for my dad, who had a stroke, and now my mom, who is recovering from a stroke, and my brother, who has schizophrenia and is in poor physical health. They do live independently, and with some help from community agencies, I don’t have to …

Caregiving Books You Should Care About

Ah, it’s summer. Beach reading time if you’re a lucky caregiver. What I’m going to propose may not be your idea of breezy escape books. But I’ve made a list of top-notch resources for family caregivers. If you can’t get to them now, they’ll be helpful in any season. The books are written by professionals (physicians, nurses, therapists, gerontologists, bioethicists and journalists), many of whom know about caregiving firsthand. With tips, strategies, information and contacts, they focus on sick spouses, …