Page 2 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - April 2018 - 25-04
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Page 2 Senior Times - April 2018
By: Tim Mitchell, Fund Development Coordinator, CentraCare
Emily, 54, and her husband, John, 55, became empty nesters after their second daughter left for college. While it was a somewhat strange feel- ing, they adapted quickly and found they were enjoying their new found freedom. Both having high stress and very demanding jobs in the field of information technology, they cherished their evenings and often enjoyed short weekend get- a-ways. Their plan was set, they knew that after seven more years of work they would be finan- cially able to retire and still be young enough to travel to the many places they dreamed of over the course of their 30 year marriage.
However, within a year after becoming emp- ty-nesters, Emily’s father, who was the primary caregiver for her mother who was recently diag- nosed with vascular dementia, suddenly died. Not only was Emily grieving over the death of her father, with whom she had a very close relation- ship, but, as an only child, she was also faced with the daunting task of becoming the primary care- giver for her mother.
While she would never admit it to anyone – not even to her husband or children – after 18 months of juggling work and caring for her mother, Emily became overwhelmed and exhausted. Between her mother’s two hospitalizations, dozens of doctor appointments, bathing and dressing her, running home at lunch time to make sure her mother took the proper medications, and handling all the med- ical bills and insurance paperwork, Emily was under constant stress. Even with John’s help, there seemed to no longer be any time to do anything but work and care for her mother, which seemed to increase with every month that passed.
As Emily’s mother’s dementia progressed,
she felt her only alternative was to quit work and become a full time caregiver. Even though John and Emily knew that would mean their retirement plans would likely never come to fruition, they felt there was no other choice. Emily felt
overcome with guilt at the very thought of placing her mother in a long-term memory care facili-
ty. The decision was made. Emily resigned and became a full time caregiver for the next eight years until her mother’s death.
Unfortunately, similar scenarios are lived out by an estimated 40 million family caregivers in the United States alone. Now, in 2018, those numbers are likely considerably higher.
At-home caregivers provide a staggering 37 billion hours of care to an adult with limita- tions in accomplishing activities of daily living (ADL’s). The value of their unpaid contribu- tions is estimated to be $470 billion according to a 2013 study by the AARP Public Policy Institute.
But the sacrifice of the family caregiver is even greater. A substantial body of research has exam- ined the impact of caregiving on the psychological and physical health of family caregivers showing those who care for older relatives report higher levels of stress and poorer health than the popula- tion at large. The majority experience depression, anxiety, sleep problems, pain, and exhaustion. This is especially true when caring for someone with dementia.
These caregivers make tremendous sacrifices
daily and they are invaluable! Their value cannot really be estimated. If it weren’t for volunteer fam- ily caregivers our medical facilities would not be able to handle the demand for care.
But caregivers must realize they are not super-human and they also need to take care of themselves. CentraCare is a viable option for the overwhelmed caregiver. And, nearly all CentraCare participants do not pay out of pocket for the ser- vices provided.
A caregiver of a CentraCare participant recently stated, “If it wasn’t for CentraCare, we would have had to put Mom in a long-term care facility. But, with CentraCare’s help, she is able to continue
to live at home just like she wanted and I’m very happy we can honor her desire to be at home.”
She added, “It’s a great relief to know that there are so many people with dementia care experience watching her. My only regret is that I wish I would have enrolled Mom in the program sooner. We
are extremely fortunate to have CentraCare in our community!”
Another very important opportunity offered
by CentraCare for family caregivers is the After- Hours Respite Program that is completely under- written by grants from the Calhoun County Senior Millage as well as the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Michigan Foundation.
CentraCare is able to offer respite care
two evenings and two Saturdays per month in four-hour time blocks at absolutely no cost to the families who use the program. This short break affords loved ones the relief they need to be able to continuing caring for their loved one at home... just like they always wanted.
To learn more about CentraCare or the After- Hours Respite Program you may call Donna at (269) 441-9319. Or, you can visit the website at
Caregivers, Are You Tired?
Let Us Help.
For dates, times, and to register, please contact Donna at (269) 441-9319
CentraCare’s experienced staff will lovingly care for your elderly loved one at our Battle Creek Day Center location to give you relief. At NO CHARGE* to you! WE PROVIDE: Transportation, Nutritious Meal & Snack, Socialization, Assistance with Personal Care, and Cognitively Stimulating Activities.
200 W. Michigan Avenue | Battle Creek, MI 49017 | 269-441-9300 | *Funds for this program are made available through a grant from the Calhoun County Senior Millage and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation

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