For a number of years, I helped my parents “around the edges”. I provided assistance by paying bills, managing medications, grocery shopping, scheduling and going to appointments, sorting through the mail, and most importantly, just visiting. They were able to remain in their home into their mid-90’s. I realized how difficult it would have been for them if I had not been able to be there and how many individuals do not have someone to" just be there. "
After retiring as a manager in a Federal civil rights agency, I began to acquire knowledge and experience in the geriatric field. The first step I took was to acquire a certificate in Managing Aging Services from UMass, Boston. I then began working for an Aging Services Access Point (ASAP). Most recently, I worked as an options counselor, assisting individuals in identifying and accessing resources, and as a caregiver support specialist. I also conduct a number of trainings for caregivers, including training for caregivers caring for someone with dementia. I have volunteered as an ombudsman in skilled nursing facilities and a check-writer under the State’s Money Management program.
Several years after I began this journey, I became the 24/7 caregiver for my father, who had vascular dementia. While this was detour in the road I had started on, I look at this time as a gift. As much as I thought I knew about caring for an elder and the challenges of caregiving, actually being the caregiver was eye opening, challenging and very rewarding. I am better for it.
Throughout my personal and professional experiences, it is clear to me that there are many gaps in the services available to assist people in enjoying an independent and meaningful life. I can help to fill those gaps for individuals in a caring and compassionate manner.
So often it is about the little things and too often agency assistance fails to bring the personal touch or provide the flexibility needed. An individual may not have family members who can help or the individual may need more assistance that the family can provide. I can also help a caregiver get a break by providing socialization and companionship to their loved one.