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EDITORIAL RESPONSES  /Clever CaregiverEditorial List

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Clever Caregiver Editorial Responses
These are just some of the many responses we received from our Editorial of 03/08/07 - Clever Caregiver

Hello Gary,

My five years of caring for my Dad, age 97, definitely impacted my work life.  I was never a "career track" person, but I always worked, mostly some type of office work over the past 35 years.  I left a job in 2001 to do consulting, which offered me more flexibility.  Then in 2002 my Dad and I bought a house together, and entered into an informal "partnership" whereby he would provide the income and I would provide the services.  I stopped even trying to work at the end of 2002, it just was not possible.  He has dementia, and anxiety (OCD) and although I was fortunate that he was not sick, he was quite high maintenance and needed a lot of supervision.  I'm a single woman, and our house required a lot of repairs, which also was a big drain on my time and energy.  I had a very difficult time finding reliable affordable homecare, so I used home care on a limited basis.  Recruiting caregivers was my second biggest "job" after caring for my Dad and the house.  I cared for him until last November 2006, when I placed him in a quality board and care (assisted living) in our area, with 2 live in caregivers for six residents.  I am still "on call" as a friend puts it, visiting 3-4 times a week.  I am happy to say he is doing well, extremely well considering his age.

I am now back in the job market, and at 57, it is quite a shock to the system.  I have sent out probably 50 resumes since the first of the year, and gotten few calls.  Salaries are way down, and benefits are few, except in the largest companies.  I am restricting myself to jobs within 10 miles, to avoid being in a bad position if I am needed on short notice by my Dad.  There is much traffic gridlock in my area, so logistics are important and I'm not exactly ready for a "retirement job" since I am 8 years away from Medicare and I think 10 years away from Social Security.  I have some personal health issues, nothing drastic, but I am not able to do what I could do when I was younger, either, like work as a retail sales person or food server or even a paid caregiver - no can do - I don't have the physical stamina.  So I am a bit puzzled frankly how to proceed. 

I do not regret taking these years off work for my Dad, and I am fortunate since he does have a small estate which I have preserved to a large extent by providing much of his care myself.  Depending on what the future holds, I will likely inherit something from his estate, since I am his only child.  But I am not "set for life" and figure I have to work for another 10 years, God willing, and at this moment, I have no idea what that is going to look like. 


Today is the one year anniversary since I went into my husbands room and found him in a heap on the floor.  He had suffered a stroke during the night - when he got up to go to the bathroom, I believe.  This stroke came approximately three weeks after he had 4-way bypass surgery.  Anyhow, that stroke changed the course of of lives forever.   He had worked for the government in air traffic control for 30 plus years when the government decided to privatize that part of the air traffic system.  Lockheed-Marten took over the flight service system and everyone was offered a job, with the same pay they had been making in the government, for a minimum of three years.  We were in seventh heaven. He was able to retire from the government one day and the next he went to work for Lock-Heed at his old pay.  We decided to make the most of the situation and we knew that there would be something to do every week-end. Prior to the privatization we had bought a travel trailer to prepare for our retirement and a Yukon XL to pull it with - both with payments. 

Then the morning of March 1st came and I knew all of our plans would not come true.  My husband had a severe stroke and lost just about everything.  He got a lot of it back but has paralysis on his right side.  He is able to walk with a cane; he has no use of his right arm and the biggest thing is that he has aphasia so he is unable to carry on a conversation.  Therefore, he is unable to work and that has cut our income back by approximately $95,000.   We were not set-up for our retirement.   Now we have spent all of our savings on medically related bills and they still keep coming in.  I had to take him out of one therapy place because they charged so much that our 15% after insurance paid was still $65 per hour just for occupational therapy.  In addition to the cost of therapy we had to travel almost 50 miles one way to get there and with gas at $2.50 a gallon the expenses keep piling up.  We can't afford to pay for any outside help.  I barely have enough for groceries, gas and medicine after we pay for our bills.  It will take three years to get out of this.  My only hope is that nothing major goes wrong in that three years. I will say we are lucky he has the pension.  If he was younger we would have been without income for the past nine months.   Also I believe that when you work for the government you don't get short term disability I think you have to use your vacation and sick time.  So if you don't have any hours coming you don't get any money. Anyhow, this is our story.  Not as bad as some.  We just weren't good spenders - especially my husband - and now we are paying for it.  If we only had that three more years.


Dear Gary,

This past year has been a difficult one.  My husband of 57 years was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He is now on his second round of chemo after the original chemo treatments and seven and a half weeks of radiation.  Trying to be there for him and running the agency, as well as serving on a number of Boards and Commissions,has been a real challenge.  Many who head up these FIA agencies have similar problems.  We often work on a shoestring, minimal staff and maximum needs.  Fortunately, I have a close family.  Many do not.  For me, the prayers and support of my church, my friends and my faith has made it possible to see that all our programs have continued to minister to seniors.  Our volunteers, the backbone of any FIA program have been super. 

My story is not unusual, but it has impacted many lives.  I co-host a live call-in talk show three times a month.  It's an hour show and we have wonderful guests who share resources and expert help to our viewers.  Thus, I have been blessed with a wonderful support group.



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