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Where There Is Help: Caregivers Share Their Experiences

With the help of Donna Washburn from The Life Office, several caregivers have volunteered to share their experiences and the resources they have found most helpful. Look for more sharing and resources from the people who have similar challenges with eldercare, assisted living, and Alzheimer's disease. This story mentions the following service providers: The Life Office, Area Agencies on Aging, and Madonna.

* The best thing I have found is Day Care at Madonna , my husband goes there 3 days a week. He likes the staff, the other clients, and is always ready to go. It makes me feel good to know that he likes it. Also, it gives me time to do the things I like to do, or need to do. Plus, it makes the other 4 days easier to deal with. The only down side is the cost, and I have help with that. Ruth

* I was at my wits’ end trying to care for 88 year-old parents and work around a brother and sister-in-law who were not very cooperative or helpful. I got in contact with Donna who listened, offered assistance in many forms, and mostly helped me to know I was not alone in my problems and concerns. Caring for loved ones is a wonderful-sometimes daunting-and challenging task and I have been greatly helped as a caregiver. Jane

* My husband and I became the primary caretakers for my mother-in-law about 7 years ago when she moved in with us. In the beginning she was completely able to take care of herself and help us, which we appreciated. However as her health began to fail, we became aware of her need for us, which is a very hard thing for all of us to admit. With a full-time job and a family of our own, caring for her was often a struggle. During that time, I heard Donna from the Life Office talk at a brown bag lunch about caring for aging parents. She shared an article referring to our generation as the “Sandwich Generation”, which really hit home with me. Through Donna, I learned of services that better enabled us to help my mother-in-law, while keeping her at home with us as long as possible. It was such a relief to know that the Life Office was only a phone call away and always willing to help me find a solution. Their resources are unbelievable. Through the Life Office we were able to establish my mother-in-law’s Power of Attorney and Living Will, just to be prepared. Within a year of doing that, she became ill and ended up needing a higher level of care then we could give her at home. Again the Life Office helped with guidance and direction to get us through this next level. The Power of Attorney and Living Will are documents that we have had to use way more than we would like to and are so grateful to have gotten them prior to the need. I have referred many friends to the office and enjoy the email newsletters that are distributed. The Life Office is truly one of Nebraska’s greatest assets and everyone should know about it and the support, guidance and knowledge it offers. Lori

* My mom, who has health problems of her own, is the caregiver for my grandmother. When my mom was unable to perform some of her normal activities due to being in a cast, we were able to utilize the services of their local Area Agency on Aging (Blue Valley, I believe). They lined up someone to come in and do some of the housekeeping, and I ordered Meals on Wheels through their local senior center. Even though I don't live in the same town, I was able to call and get some help for them. This helped put my mind at ease, because I work full time and don't have the capability to take off from work to help out like I would like to. I knew that they were getting help with cleaning and getting meals, which took a burden off me. Just being able to help coordinate these things by phone was a big help. It's nice to know there are services available, and I wouldn't have been aware of these services if not for the Lincoln Area Agency on Aging. It's wonderful to have a "starting place" when looking for assistance with caregiving. DH

* Donna and her staff have really helped me with the support I needed when both my parents came to Lincoln to live with me in March of 2006. I was at my wits’ end and called the Life Office. Sharon was very supportive. She said she understood my feelings. I was worried I was not a good daughter. I was very upset about having my parents interrupting my life style. I was able to attend two support groups facilitated by Donna. My dad developed lung cancer and died in a very short time. My daughter, Kathy, and I have been in close contact with Joyce from the Life Office. Joyce has helped in a number of ways with getting Mom the extra help she needs. Joyce went to the VA representative and now Mom gets extra money from them because she is homebound and needs help with all her care, as well as meals prepared. Joyce also helped Kathy contact AFLAC to get insurance policies paid due to Dad's cancer. Mom now has a volunteer who is an elder companion to visit with once a week. Mom gets to stay in my house and does not want to have to go to a nursing home. I am so grateful Donna was here for me and my family. Beverley Kettleson


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