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Posted: December 12, 2003

Practical Caregiving

Introduction to Practical Caregiving

As adults, there are two things we don't want to do in this life. We don't want to take care of our spouse, friend or parent who is ill or elderly, and we don't want to be ill or in an elderly state where someone else has to take care of us. But such is not life as these are situations we all have to face and deal with.


I took care of Mom and Dad the last 4 ½ years of their lives. The first two years we traveled in a 32-foot travel trailer I pulled with a Suburban when we were not home. The last two years we were basically at home because Dad couldn't travel any longer. Mom had Alzheimer's, and by the time I was taking care of them she didn't know her family and she couldn't do anything for herself. Dad kept having strokes and other non-life-threatening problems. I am so glad I took care of Mom and Dad those years. They both became like little children and I feel I caught a glimpse of my parents when they were little kids. I had to look beyond the problems caused by their age and health to see that little child, but that child was definitely there. I will always treasure that glimpse into their childhood. I am so glad I had the opportunity to get to know my parents during that time of their life.

When I started taking care of Mom and Dad, I didn't know how I was going to do it. All I knew was that I was going to do what I had to do to take care of my parents. There are two areas the family caregiver needs to deal with: the emotional needs and physical needs of their loved one as well as themselves. Others helped me and taught me along the way, whether it was in a campground or in our home. I also stumbled upon many things that helped me take care of Mom and Dad. I have come to understand a lot about what happened emotionally and physically to them, as well as myself, since their death.

I write this Practical Caregiving column from the unique viewpoint of a family caregiver rather than that of a professional caregiver. I draw from my own experiences as a family caregiver as well as those of other family caregivers. My goal will be to provide you with the practical side of caregiving - the answers, the solutions that have worked for me and others I know. Life is not a series of medical studies; I will help you understand the practical side of taking care of your mom, dad, uncle, aunt or neighbor.

In other words, I've been there. I understand. And I will share. You are not alone. I will work hard to help you, to be your advisor and advocate, to be a meaningful beacon in your caregiving journey.

I will not answer medical, legal or other questions that require specific education, knowledge or training. Go to the Ask an Expert section of this website under the Community tab at the top of the page for those questions.

But if you have any question, comments or suggestions - in other words if I can help or if you merely want to share your story -- please send them to me at jdonahue@caregivershome.com . If I don't have the practical answer to your dilemma, I'll try to find it.

I'll be here every week with a new column - Practical Caregiving -- to help you along this journey that blends stress, happiness, sorrow, frustration, humor, joy and intrigue (yes, intrigue) and always, always presents a circumstance that challenges and (hopefully) rewards.

So, tell me: What would you like to know? What information can I give that will help you? Please send me your questions, comments and suggestions at jdonahue@caregivershome.com

© 2003 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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Please send me your questions, comments and issues regarding the practical side of caregiving at ASKJEAN@caregivershome.com, and remember to take advantage of our professionals and experts in the Ask an Expert section of our website. You'll find it in the left column on our homepage.

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