The Fearless Caregiver


Gary Barg - Editor-in-chief Powerful Partnerships Prevent Pitfalls


I met Tina and Tim in Tampa (okay, not their real names, but I did meet them in Tampa). They had seen me on a local call-in TV show and learned I would be speaking at a health expo that day. When I met them at the expo, I was taken by their story. For many years, they had put their lives on hold as Tina’s mom, who had suddenly taken ill, moved into the guest bedroom. They did their darndest to help her and when she passed seven years later, they made plans to travel and start a new business. Unfortunately, that is when they received the call that Tim’s mother had suffered a stroke.

Since both the Turners (okay, settle down) were the only children of their parents, the guest room once again became occupied. By the time I entered the story, they had the look of people who were in an emotional death spiral from which they could not recover. As I spoke with them, I learned that although they had created quite a formidable team between the two of them, they never reached out to any community organization for help. They were, in fact, quite surprised to hear me answering questions from other caregivers on the show, since they thought they were the only people going through the challenges that faced them.

I also realized that even though they were extremely smart, capable and loving people, since they assumed they were the only ones going through caregiving, they never even spoke of their personal travails to their loved ones’ physicians. In fact, aSam's Clublthough they were quite frugal, they didn’t ever look to see if there were any choices when it came to their loved ones’ services, medications and incontinence supplies and just ran into whatever store was open and grabbed whatever was on the shelves at any price. Quite an expensive oversight. 

If you think that this is a situation that is unique to the Turners, think again. Since I met them many years ago, I have seen that look in the eyes of others caught up in the same spiral. As a couple, they simply hunkered down to get the job done and had only recently realized they were in trouble. I walked them around the expo, introducing them to the appropriate care agencies, and even showed them that there were better options available for the many supplies they needed as caregivers, right under their own noses.  I kept my fingers crossed.

They called me a year later. They had started going to a support group, found a physician with whom they could partner, and they created a cost efficiency plan for the purchase of the supplies they needed as caregivers.  And most of all, they were planning their first trip away together in almost a decade.  Hey, who said that TV is bad for you?




  Gary Barg
Today's Caregiver magazine
Wednesday October 19, 2011
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