This is the second blog in a series of inspirational stories from caregivers in our community.
A Personal ALS Story
When I look back on my life, I can say it had all been pretty planned out. Once you graduate from high school, you go to college. After college, I ended up getting married and moving a bunch of times. I had predictable jobs that fit my marketing degree & lived the life that I always thought I would have. You could say it was pretty smooth sailing. I always felt that God had a plan for me and everything always happened for a reason. I had never experienced the feeling of my world being turned upside down over night.
Once my mom was given her ALS diagnosis, things began to change very quickly. I became addicted to calling home and seeing how things were going (I was living in Boston at the time). My mom had officially left her job at Nordstrom (which she loved) and was now cooped up in the house more than she would like. My dad had taken on an enthusiastic endeavor of learning everything about ALS he could and possible homeopathic therapies that can help. He had to continue going to work as well, and he never found time to rest. I felt completely helpless. I kept hearing about little things that were happening, like random falls or not being able to get up off of the couch after being seated. Eventually, I was being told that my mom was having a hard time feeding herself. This was tough to hear. I wanted to come home. My dad had told me to wait until things got really bad when I kept asking if I should come home for a visit. READ MORE
Preparing for the Age Wave
A colleague asked me recently if I’d heard the conversation happening in the human service sector around the “over-professionalization” of care – the increasing need to have credentialed staff provide formal services for everything people need. I hadn’t heard of this concept – but it immediately struck a chord.
For the past three years I’ve been leading an initiative designed to enhance the informal support networks of people caregiving for older adults. If you suddenly found yourself thrust into caring for an aging parent who would you reach out to first? My guess: your best friend, your siblings, maybe a coworker who’d gone through the same thing. You’d reach out to your informal network – not a social service agency.
This is the first blog in a series of inspirational stories from caregivers in our community. It’s National Caregivers Month, show appreciation for the caregivers in your life.
Caregiving: A Family Tradition
Caregiving has been ingrained in me from childhood. Growing up during the 50s in a tight-knit Catholic, Italian/American family, my role models were many. My father, who emigrated from Italy when he was 14, was beholden to family friends, who adopted him, changing his life completely by arranging his passage from southern Italy to New York and on to Minnesota. Papa worked in the family business until my grandfather passed away. My dad never took a salary; instead he relied on (not by choice) my grandparents for virtually all of his (and our) needs: housing, food, medical, entertainment—all of our living expenses. In a sense my dad was not allowed to mature as a young man, so strict was the family code. But my father, mother, sister and I were well taken care of by my grandparents. We lived together and looked after each other. My grandmother never learned English; she could not drive, read newspapers or books, or even shop for groceries by herself. Instead she was wholly dependent on her husband and family. READ MORE