Caring for the Caregivers: One Couple’s Story
Caring for a loved one is incredibly rewarding work, but it can also be quite a challenge. Kenneth Young Center recognizes the importance of our family and chosen caregivers, and is proud to offer resources so that no caregiver has to feel alone. We’re honored to share how our caregiver supports and older adult programming have helped one couple, Frank and Laura, remain independent and safe throughout the pandemic.
Caring for Frank as He Cares for Laura
Seventy-three-year-olds, Frank and Laura are childhood sweethearts. They never had children, so when Laura’s health started to change after 50-something years of marriage, Frank knew he’d need some help to keep her cared for and safe for as long as he could so they could remain together. When he called Kenneth Young Center, he was quick to tell his care coordinator that they were independent, but that also meant a bit alone.
Throughout the pandemic, Frank has had to be Laura’s sole caretaker, without outside assistance or community activities to attend as they stayed home to stay safe. Laura’s memory impairments have continued to slowly get worse, meaning Frank is always “on call”. When he showers, he has to listen to make sure Laura doesn’t try to leave the house or isn’t calling for help. He makes all their meals, cleans the house, and manages all their finances. There are no breaks or time to recharge. Caregiving for a loved one who has a memory impartment is a challenge at any time, but now being the sole caregiver during a pandemic heightens those stressors.
But to Frank, this is what he does for Laura, the woman he’s spent a lifetime loving. When Laura doesn’t recognize him or asks him to leave before her husband comes home, there’s no time or space to react. He lovingly looks for strategies and routines he can put in place to reassure her, to keep her calm, and to help Laura feel his love even if she doesn’t remember him moments later. For this support, he turns to KYC’s Caregiver Specialist, Daxa. For two years, Frank and Laura have attended KYC’s Memory Café, both in person and then virtually, and participate in our Caregiver Resource Center programs. Meeting other caregivers and sharing his experience with Daxa, a trained social worker, Frank has new tools to support Laura, while also taking care of himself.
This month, Frank called Daxa and said that the best way to support Laura is to bring in additional help. Struggling with the idea of allowing anyone in their home and risking COVID-19 exposure, Frank, Daxa, and a respite provider outlined all the necessary precautions they would take together to prevent the spread of germs, while offering the couple the support they need. While the respite worker socializes with Laura and helps around the house, Frank can rest, shower, and hopes to plant flowers this spring so he can bring them inside to his love, Laura.
Supporting Caregivers and Older Adults Together
More than 8,000 older adults find the resources they need to live well — physically, mentally, and emotionally — through Kenneth Young Center (KYC) each year. Thanks to our supporters, volunteers, and caring staff, we’re honored to provide the personalized solutions that help each of the older adults we serve to live their best lives. If you would like to show your support for KYC’s older adult programs, including our caregiver support services, you can make a gift today or join us for our Hustle for Health 5K Run/Walk. However you support KYC, we’re grateful to continue this work with your partnership.