Please fill out your contact information below and an AgeRight Care at Home representative will be in touch shortly.
"*" indicates required fields
Bend realtor Vickie Johnson recalls the seconds just before her life as a full-time caregiver began.
She was up before dawn, prepping for an early client meeting, when the phone rang. One of those unnerving, odd-hour phone calls that makes your heart skip.
On the other end of the line was Vickie’s mom, 83-year-old Lynn Pert. Normally strong and confident, Lynn sounded worried and in pain “I need you to get me to the emergency room, honey,” Lynn told her daughter. “Can you get here right away?”
During the rush to the hospital Vickie learned that her mom had been keeping a secret.
For months, she was enduring pain in her abdomen. That morning the pain became “unbearable” and it was growing worse.
Hours of tests later, doctors delivered the worst possible news. Lynn’s liver was overtaken with cancer. She had six months to live.
Lynn insisted on trying to continue living independently in her own home — and for a while it worked.
Then, late one night, after a trip to the bathroom, Lynn fell and hit her head on the counter, knocking her unconscious. When she woke up, she crawled to her nightstand and pulled the phone to the floor to call her daughter. Too weak to complete that call or stand, Lynn curled up and waited.
“Thank goodness I called mom that morning and kept calling,” says Vickie. “When we found her, I knew she needed full time care. It was an enormous privilege to move her into our home and tend to her needs. But caregiving can be exhausting — physically and emotionally.
Here’s where all caregivers can learn something from Vickie’s story.
She knew that the best way to give her mother excellent care, was to first take care of…Vickie.
“I was fortunate to have help from my husband. He would have the conversations with my mom I couldn’t do without crying, which would upset her. He would ask her if she was scared and she appreciated being able to talk about that. But I knew I had to try very hard to take care of myself. I ate healthy, got adequate sleep, exercised and found some alone time to process my thoughts. I also didn’t wait to ask for help from hospice, those angels.”
“If you’re a caregiver, I urge you to take care of yourself. Don’t feel guilty about asking for help from others when you need it. Take deep breaths. There’s a solution and you’ll find it.”
Unfortunately, caregiving doesn’t always go as well as Vickie’s story, especially if you’re doing it alone. Caregivers are at a greater risk of suffering from depression, stress-related diseases and even early death.
As you’ll learn in this blog, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Meet Kim Lindauer, Marquis’ administer of AgeRight Care at Home, which provides customized, comprehensive in-home assistance and care plans. Kim has a double major in management and marketing from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, has worked for the Mayo Medical Center and specializes in staffing healthcare, providing nursing resources and administering home healthcare. She’s sharing some proven ways you can make sure you stay strong and healthy on your caregiver journey.
Q: Kim, could you give us a sense of how rapidly caregiving has grown and why? And what do you see for the future?
A: The need is big now and only growing due to so many baby boomers aging and a lower population of younger people to care for them. COVID has really taken many people out of the work force, especially women, who are normally caregivers. The fact that people are living so much longer creates a higher need as well.
Q: Caregiving comes with some risks for the caregiver that we don’t often talk about. What are those?
A: Based on data from the US Department of Health and Human Services, family caregivers face a variety of risk factors for poor health. Just look at these alarming statistics.
Q: What should we consider before committing to becoming a caregiver?
A: Well, first, take a little self-inventory of your personality strengths. Being a caregiver requires compassion, humor, assertiveness, being present and the ability to ask for assistance. Can I repeat that humor helps? You can avoid a lot of problems – financial, relational, physical and emotional – if you also honestly answer these questions:
Q: Let’s say we commit to caregiving. What are the warning signs we’re burning out?
A: Some of these are just part of everyday life. We all get tired or sad sometimes. You want to watch for when these feelings become overwhelming. An overwhelming lack of energy, fatigue, mood swings, anxiety, sadness, anger and impatience. Feeling like caregiving is controlling your life to the point you’re neglecting your own physical and emotional needs. I want to red flag arguing and anger, especially if that’s happening between you and the person you’re caring for.
Q: What are the first steps to getting some help?
A: The important thing is not ignoring the signs. No one can do this alone and it’s a show of strength, not weakness to ask for help. Here are some ideas.
Q: If we decide we can no longer be a caregiver and we need to investigate getting some outside help, what questions should we ask?
A: Once you decide your loved one would be better served with outside help, there are a few key things to think about. Answering these will also help your peace of mind knowing you are doing the best for your loved one.
There are many agencies out there that provide Home Care and Home Health services. You’ll want to make sure you choose the one that is an excellent fit for your loved one. Knowing he or she is in good hands will also safeguard your own emotional and physical health.