En español | I’ve been a family caregiver for more than 30 years, and I’ve found that there are some gadgets that not only make my life much easier but also make the lives of those I’m caring for much safer and happier.
Watching the new PBS documentary Caring for Mom and Dad was like looking in a mirror. The gut-wrenching heartaches, stress, fatigue, fears — but most of all, the love — these families experience reflect my own caregiving journey.
This is a pivotal time. Converging sociodemographic trends and more complex care needs are contributing to historically unprecedented challenges in family care of older people in the U.S.
I don't usually leave Daddy for long. But this time a series of work commitments - and a high school reunion - means I'll stay away from home for 19 days. Although my sister Linda is going to be with Daddy for most of that time, it's still very hard to leave knowing he may change a great deal while I'm away, and that he will probably feel less safe and secure without my presence. He doesn't always know I am his daughter, but on a deep, basic level he knows me. While my head knows I'm doing the sensible thing, my heart is twisted in sadness.
"What? Me worry?" Those famous words of Mad Magazine's fictitious Alfred E. Neuman seem to sum up the attitude Americans have about whether aging is a problem in this country. A just-released Pew Research Center global aging report asked residents of 21 countries if they thought the burgeoning number of older people was a "major problem" for their country and for themselves.
It's strange, the things that go through our minds when we are suffering a life-altering, heartbreaking loss. When my Mom passed just three weeks ago, one of the first things I thought of was the coming issue of the AARP Bulletin with our photo on the cover and an excerpt of my book, AARP's Juggling Work and Caregiving. I knew it was to be a visual depiction of the love I feel for my mom and the care I was giving her. People who had seen it had told me it took their breath away and Mom looked beautiful. I'm so proud of both of my parents, and I had eagerly anticipated the moment I would see the cover and show it to her. Truthfully, in my heart that moment was more important to me than having my book published. Now that moment will never come. After she passed, the first time I saw the cover I was not prepared. I broke down and sobbed uncontrollably for an hour.
It is with an impossibly heavy heart that I write this post. Patricia Ann Stutz Goyer, passed on Oct. 11 after a brief and sudden illness. To many she was friend, mentor, teacher, director, aunt, sister, wife ... to me she was Mom, and she has been the inspiration for so much of my work and writing over the past four years.
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