Open Letter to Caregivers

We are proud to present a post by AGE’s Caregiver Information and Resource Director. Hector Rodriguez joined AGE last year and since then he’s been providing crucial consultations and referrals to caregivers from all over Central Texas and beyond. 

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This is for you, the Caregiver.

I’ve seen it in your eyes, I’ve heard it in your voice, and I’ve read it in your emails…You’re stressed. You’re scared.  You’re exhausted.  You’re at wit’s end.  Every time I speak to you, caregiver, I am taken back to a time where I was also stressed, scared, exhausted, and at my wit’s end.  You are constantly trying to remember the happier days.  The days when you did not have to worry about your parent wandering or getting lost.  The days when you did not have to change your parent’s diaper.  The days when you did not have to lift your spouse in and out of bed and in and out of the shower.  No rest for the weary.

You are a caregiver.

Why did you become a caregiver you ask? You didn’t ask for it.  You didn’t want to be one. I was only 22 years-old when I became a dementia caregiver, and until then all I had cared about was my college exams, our next fightin’ Texas Aggie football game, preparing for the LSAT, and the next keg-party. I am sure you are thinking that these are supposed to be the golden years for you and your spouse.  You were planning to be take cruises in the Mediterranean, maybe pick up a hobby together, or visit every vineyard in Napa Valley.  You never expected to be re-teaching your spouse on how to use a toothbrush.

I am here for you, caregiver.  I say what I mean.  I’ve walked in your shoes before and I do not want you to continue walking in the dark anymore.  Your care is my concern.

How many of you have received unsolicited advice/critique about your caregiving skills?  I, for one can say I received a lot of it.  My family believed that my age and (im)maturity were not suitable to take care of my mom.  However, no one volunteered to provide me respite, and phone calls were rare.  In the four years of her dementia, she was only visited 3 times by any family member.  To heck with those types of people.  If you have that kind of people in your life who constantly criticize your every move as a caregiver, do not mind them.  Don’t give them the time of day.  The work that you’re doing is tremendous and it takes a very special type of person to be a caregiver.

I commend each and every single one of you for stepping up and taking on something bigger than yourself.  Please do not afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.  You are not invincible; none of us are.  Seek out the help that you need and you and your loved one will be better off.

I cannot make any guarantees that I will solve every problem, but I will truly try my very hardest to find expert solutions and empower you through your difficult times.  The resources are out there. Some are definitely harder to find than others, but if you don’t search properly, you’ll never find them.

I don’t know when things will get better for you but I believe at the end of the storm, there’s always a golden sky.  With me at your side, you’ll never walk alone.

~~~

If you are a caregiver and you’re looking for help, visit our caregiver page at www.ageofcentraltx.org/caregiver.php.

AGE of Central and the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area will host “How to Manage Care,” a free seminar on February 14th for caregivers of older adults, from 10:00 a.m. to Noon in the Large Meeting Room of the AGE Building, located at 3710 Cedar Street, Austin, TX 78705.  The workshop will feature regional experts in aging and caregiving for a free seminar discussing techniques to help effectively care for an older loved one.  The event will also highlight caregiver resources and programs available in the community.

The seminar is free, but space is limited.  Participants can register by calling (512) 600-9286 or registering online at http://tinyurl.com/agefeb2015. A limited amount of free respite care for older family members will be available during the seminar at AGE’s Austin Adult Day Health Center by RSVP only. To RSVP for respite, please request the service with online registration or call Hector Rodriguez at (512) 600-9286 no later than February 10th. 

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