Supporting Caregivers

Supporting CaregiversCaregivers have to learn to help themselves. They have to cope; they have to be there. And it’s hard to do it alone. They all need support of families and friends. 

By: Natasha Morgan

Caregivers have been around throughout centuries. The responsibility often fell to women since women were at home raising children while men were out working “to bring home the bacon”.

Not much has changed in recent years except, as the population ages and we live longer, there are many more elderly in need of caregivers.

Becoming a caregiver is sometimes thrust upon you with very little notice. A phone call of an accident or a visit to the doctor can change your entire life.

Lee Woodruff’s best-seller, In An Instant vividly describes her life as an unexpected caregiver. Bob Woodruff, co-anchor for ABC News, was hit by an IED while covering the war in Iraq. Lee chronicles the events from the time she first saw Bob in his severely injured state in a hospital in Germany to when she became nurse and nursemaid, mother and teacher.

Howard and Helene Moore owned a collection of thematic art of kissing couples which in 1992 was shown on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. In 1993 Howard was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Helen felt like her world had caved in. To relieve her pain, she started a secret journal while she smiled for Howard.

For seven years she kept her journal, eventually turning it into a book named Behind the Mask. It was written specifically to help caregivers. By reading it, everyone would know the emotions all the new caregivers are going through. “I know I can’t wipe away all their tears, but I can help them get through the day”.

Helene didn’t stop there. She launched a program called Adopt a Caregiver. She gets the word out by attending community events that allow her the opportunity to relate her story.

Every community has caregivers, be they from Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, heart attack, or MS. Caregivers can be lonely, depressed, and wondering what is going to happen next in their lives. Every day is a struggle. Emotions can run high, and there is no outlet.

Angry doesn’t help. Depression doesn’t help. Caregivers have to learn to help themselves. They have to cope; they have to be there. And it’s hard to do it alone. They all need support of families and friends. 

Adopting a Caregiver is Helene’s unique way of giving back. She encourages everyone to find out who in their area is a caregiver and how to get in touch with them. Tell them you understand what they are going through because a friend of yours shared all her emotions about how it feels to be a caregiver in her book. Tell them you want to adopt them, and explain how it works. Be real, be honest, be a friend. A true friend never judges, always listens to the best of his/her ability.

To Adopt a Caregiver, all you have to do is check your neighborhood, your social clubs, church, synagogue, your doctor’s office, the Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s message boards, and the Mayo Clinic message boards.

Just send an email or phone the person who needs a friend, listen and come back often to let him/her know you care and are thinking of them. Just being there to listen is a huge help.

For more information about the program, visit Helene Moore’s website.

Photo: -RoadRunner-