True Stories

The stories listed below are true – they are just a few examples of how the Caregiver Support Centers have already helped people just like you!

Rose has been caring for her husband since he had a stroke 8 years ago. She hasn't been to a doctor in years. Although she is having more trouble bathing and dressing her husband, she feels uncomfortable about letting strangers do this. Now Rose's son is worried about her health.

When Rose and her son spoke to a social worker at one of the Caregiver Resource Centers, she helped them locate a neighborhood agency which worked with the family on a care plan. Rose hired an experienced home attendant who helps with her husband's care. Rose is also regularly seeing a doctor in her neighborhood.

Inez, a mother of two young school-aged children, has been caring for her elderly father for five years. She has trouble balancing the needs of all family members.

When Inez called one of the Caregiver Resource Center's, she spoke with a social worker who listened. Her father is now attending a day program three afternoons a week. He enjoys the program and Inez gains some free time. Inez also joined a caregiver support group where she's able to express her feelings, shares ideas, and gets the understanding she needs.

Mr. R first approached the Caregiver Resource Center on a hot September afternoon, when one of its' social workers came to visit the assisted living facility where Mr. R lives. In tears, Mr. R related how he simply could not "adjust" to life at the facility. The social worker took Mr. R aside to speak more privately. In a cool corner of the community room, Mr. R shared how, at the age of 89, he came to find himself living at this facility and assuming the role of primary caregiver for his 87-year-old wife. Mrs. R suffers from Alzheimer's and Mr. R had become increasingly saddened both by her decline and their departure from their home of 32 years. After listening to Mr. R's frustrations, the social worker explained to Mr. R the services that the Caregiver Resource Center provided - information and referral, supportive individual counseling, caregiver trainings and support groups, assistance with benefits and entitlements, and limited respite care. The two exchanged phone numbers and the social worker informed Mr. R that the Caregiver Resource Center would be in touch.

Over the next five months Mr. R accessed an increasingly broader range of services through the Caregiver Resource Center. Numerous home visits between the Center and Mr. R revealed that, as with many care givers, Mr. R's health was of primary concern. The Center's social worker encouraged and eventually assisted Mr. R in arranging a doctor's appointment to assess his fluctuating blood sugar levels. With Mr. R's active participation, the social worker referred Mr. R to GMHOS (Mental Health Services) so that he could receive more focused counseling and treatment for his depression. In order to allow Mr. R greater freedom of movement and a rest from the strain of care giving, the Caregiver Resource Center instituted respite care for 4 hours, once a week. As the situation stabilized and unfolded, Mr. R expressed increasing interest in finding engaging activities for his wife and himself outside of the assisted living facility. The social worker therefore facilitated Mrs. R's admittance into an Alzheimer's day program, 2 days a week. At the site of the day program, Mr. R was able to participate in other activities offered for seniors.

Presently, Mr. R has begun to express interest in long term financial planning, even as his daughter encourages her parents to move a number of states south so that she might better care for them. Mr. and Mrs. R celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary this past week. Whatever their future plans - regardless of where Mr. and Mrs. R will celebrate their 65th anniversary - the Caregiver Resource Center will remain a resource for them as they continue on the caregiver's journey.

Ms. L. is a 52-year-old single female who first contacted one of the Caregiver Resource Center's in March of 2003. At that time, she was struggling to care for her elderly mother who suffers from advanced dementia and requires total assistance with her daily living needs.

Ms. L is ill herself. She has a degenerative condition and her ambulation is impaired. She is unable to secure long term, permanent employment and works per diem. At the time of the initial contact, she did not have any health insurance and was unable to attend to her own medical needs.

The Caregiver Resource Center provided case management, respite care, information and supportive counseling and helped Ms. L obtain 24-hour home care for her mother through Medicaid. Ms. L. receives ongoing caregiver training and group support through the Center, learning how to better care for her mother and participating in a peer mutual support group. The Center program also assisted her in securing health insurance for her own health care and has provided emergency funds during crises to pay for food, transportation, legal fees and utility bills.

With the support of the Caregiver Resource Center, Ms. L has been able to sustain a much more stable living situation for her mother and herself.

The Family Center (TFC), which specializes in working with Grandparents raising grandchildren, is working with Mary, a grandmother caring for her 8 year old grandson, Adam. Adam's mother Nikki died of cancer in 1999. Prior to Nikki's death, she made her mother Mary the standby guardian for Adam. When Nikki died, TFC worked with the family through the adjustment period. We conducted a grief and loss assessment with the family, specifically for Adam. Adam is adjusting well to the loss of his mother. Prior to her death, Nikki had an open and honest discussion with Adam about her dying and what death meant. Mary was present during these discussions. Adam wanted and was allowed to participate in the planning of his mother's funeral and feels free to talk with his grandmother about his mother.

Additionally, we worked with the family in accessing entitlements on Adam's behalf including the transferring of the lease to Mary to ensure continuity for Adam in terms of his home life. Although the death of Nikki was traumatic for the entire family, our work with them during the grief and adjustment period has been instrumental in helping both Mary and Adam cope with their newly configured family.

Joan is the 65 year old caregiver for her three grandchildren ages 11, 12, and 13. She has been caring for the 12 and 13 year olds since they were born and for the 11 year old since her mother died in December. Joan suffers from depression, high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. The Family Center (TFC), which specializes in working with Grandparents raising grandchildren, worked with Joan to assist her in drafting her own will naming a caregiver for her grandchildren in the event she is no longer able to care for them. In the process of drafting the will, Joan disclosed that she had a difficult time raising her own children when they became teenagers striving for more independence. She is fearful of reliving these same experiences with the raising of her grandchildren. TFC staff has helped Joan deal with her feelings of failure while developing a plan for the children should her health prevent her from continuing as the primary caregiver.