The Fearless Caregiver


Gary Barg - Editor-in-chiefPaging Dr. Alex


Regular readers of this column have learned about the many family caregivers who have done everything they could to succeed in being treated as equal partners in their loved one’s professional care team. We call this the professionalization of the family caregiver.  You may be gratified to know that as these family caregivers learn all they can about the illness their loved one is battling (and even teach their doctors about things such as the benefit of hospice care), their professional counterparts are working hard to increase their own expert knowledge base.

Dr. Alex:  Late in the last century (I still can’t get used to saying that), as I walked around the cavernous halls of a local Miami senior fair, I met Alex.  In fact, Alex made sure to meet everyone at that event as he had just landed his first job in the eldercare field as a marketer. The thing that stays with me to this day was his thirst for knowledge, soaking up every conversation from each person he spoke with.  I recently ran into Alex at another event. Today, he is the director of a large health care organization and I had to wait in a line to talk with him as now people were vying to get a few moments of his time.  You see, over the years as he worked, he was also pursuing advanced degrees—MSW, MBA. When I see him now, I never fail Mr. Lyon Instituteto smile as I shake his hand and say, “Dr. Alex.”

Monica:  When my family began our caregiving journey, we met some true caregiving angels who helped guide us along the way. One was the director of my grandfather’s adult day care facility. She took the time to help my mom with as much loving care as she did for my grandfather. After Monica’s long day at the center, she would go home to care for her own mother and aunt, both living with Alzheimer’s. She was also going to school to advance her own career.  Now she is the director of nursing in a large regional hospital.

I can add so many stories to these of Alex and Monica—professional caregivers who have sought advanced management degrees as they worked diligently to support our loved ones.  Are they pursuing these degrees (BBA, MBA, etc.) for better salaries?  Sure.  To advance their own careers in eldercare, which is one of the fastest growing industries in the US?  Absolutely.   But, I would go a step further.  These professional partners in care that I have met, who cannot stop learning, growing and advancing in their careers, do it so they can be the best they can be to help care for our loved ones.  And I think we are all better for it.  Thankfully, with the Internet, this has become a more accessible goal for professionals across the nation than it was for Alex or Monica.  

Okay, recess is over; back to the books!



  Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine
Wednesday September 28, 2011
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