When Hank Graefen’s mother-in-law became incapacitated, they felt it was important she live with family. That’s when they joined the legion of Americans who have become caregivers.
“It’s really hard to even talk to somebody and explain it to somebody, you almost have to go through it.”
It’s a tough job, few are experienced to handle. Monica Dunkley is with Lee Memorial Health System’s Caregiver Program. It provides training for people thrust into this new role.
“First of all to identify themselves as caregivers cause that’s the big problem they say but I’m not a caregiver I said but are you caring for someone yes well then you are a caregiver.”
Caregivers are likely to face challenges on several fronts at once.
“Medication management, nutrition management, body care management all those are like a multitude of areas that we have to meet when we’re teaching caregivers,” says Dunkley.
“They taught us step by step how to take care of somebody and they taught us all the help that is available for people in the same situation that are caring for one of their loved ones,” says Graefen.
Throwing a wrinkle into the mix is the role reversal of child keeping parent. In some cases the person requiring care, doesn’t make it easy.
“Now I am becoming dependent on someone and I don’t like that, I’ve been a nurse my whole life and I’ve taken care of my own business I’ve raised you children and now you’re telling me what to do, big big problem,” says Dunkley.
All these issues are top of mind with caregivers and the people who support them.
“The key is to know your resources, know who to call, and all that is involved first of all identifying you’re a caregiver and reaching out to receive help,” says Dunkley.