Why Another Site for Family Caregivers?
By Anne Bogardus, Founder and former caregiver
In the United States alone, there are more than 65 million family caregivers, mostly women, caring for aging parents, in-laws, or spouses.
As life expectancy increases, the amount of time we spend caring for our family members increases as well, and the stress created by the multiple demands of spouses, children, grandchildren, jobs, and friends, piled on top of the demands of elderly–and often ill–parents can be overwhelming.
Even the most organized among us can find the burden almost more than we can carry at times.
I know that’s how I felt when I took on the full-time care for my 86 year-old mom and 89 year-old dad at the end of 2009. I was totally unprepared for the scope of work that would be required when my mom asked me to “help her” take care of my dad. I was frequently overwhelmed by the magnitude of the job and often frustrated by the lack of information and answers to what I thought were pretty basic questions that I had about caregiving.
To say I was unprepared for the caregiver job is a massive understatement.
Before I left California to move in with my parents in New Jersey, I truly thought I would be taking on a part-time job—helping with shopping since neither one of my parents were able to drive any longer, doing some cleaning around the house, preparing meals.
Basically I thought I’d be doing pretty much the same things I had been doing for myself for years, just doing them for three people instead of one. I mean, really, how hard could it be to help take care of two functioning adults?
Talk about an unrealistic expectation!
Not long after I moved in, it became clear to me that my mom needed just as much caregiving as my dad did.
While their needs were very different—my mom had congestive heart failure and severe, painful arthritis, while my dad had limited mobility due to back pain and suffered from dementia—my mom was just not physically able to care for the house as she had done all her married life.
In California, I had worked as an independent human resource management consultant and authored a successful study guide for human resource certification. Before I moved in, I thought it would be a fairly simple matter to transition my consulting practice to an online service and continuing writing.
With the unpredictability of my parents’ needs, I found it difficult to focus on writing or building a website. As time went on, the caregiving job took over my life, and my plans for maintaining an independent income fell apart.
The fact is, I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the job; as a person who operates from checklists and organized systems for doing things, it was difficult to adjust to my mom’s way of doing things which was much more reactive.
I kept thinking there must be information online somewhere that would help me get control so that I could manage my caregiving tasks with my business plans.
Sadly, despite my not insignificant research skills, I struggled in vain to find the answers I needed. When I could find answers, it was usually after hours of searching. I consulted a local geriatric care manager, talked to dementia specialists, talked to my sister and brother for ideas, and basically spent a lot of unproductive time looking for what I needed.
I eventually decided to make lemonade out of lemons, and the idea for this website was born.
I hope this site helps you find the answers you need to do the best possible job of caring for the parents or spouses who need your assistance.
This website is dedicated to the millions of caregivers around this country who have the heart to take on this job and are looking for answers, practical tools and resources to do it well . . . and want to have a life at the same time.