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Practical Insights for Busy Caregivers

A Caregiver Speaks


May 2, 2016, by Pat Morden, Caregiver Exchange

Senior-couple-managing-disability together Five years ago, Helen Caron’s life was turned upside down when her husband Norm, then 64, had a stroke. He spent three months in the hospital, and later underwent cardiac surgery. Since then he has made a good recovery but still faces physical and mental challenges.

Caron makes no secret of the struggles she has faced. “My life was gone,” she says. “I didn’t go out much for about two years, and when I did, my mind was still at home. But I finally realized that I had to make a new life, and gradually things got better.”

Here is some of Caron’s hard-earned wisdom:
  • “Find a social worker or counsellor right away. Don’t wait. Caregivers need help. You’re sad, you’re stuck – you need someone to talk to.”
  • “It’s very hard on the adult children, too. They struggle as much as the spouse. They have to be strong for mum or dad, and they’re suffering, but there’s little support for them.”

  • “If you want to survive as a caregiver, you have to be strong and assertive. When I see someone using a disabled parking spot, I walk right up and say, ‘You get out, somebody needs that.’ I’m not afraid to do that now.”

  • “When Norm came home from rehab, they told me ‘This is as good as it gets.’ Don’t believe it! Throw that out the window. Norm is still making progress.”

  • “Norm wears a Lifeline button around his neck. I recommend it to everyone. He’s never used it, but it’s there for his security.”

  • I need my caregiver support group. I listen to other people and don’t feel alone. And there’s a lot of learning to do – when you start out, you’re right out of your league!”

  • “It helped me to move to a smaller place. We moved to an accessible condo. Norm can walk into the shower. The countertops are a little lower, so he’s cooking now.”