Help me, please; I’m a caregiver

Being a caregiver for an aging loved one can be tough. It can drain you physically, emotionally and mentally, but you do not have to do it alone. With the help of your community and assistive technology, it is a task that turns into something that does not have to be overwhelming, but will actually allow you to see your loved one without thinking about the bills that are piling up on the table or the fact that you are having to do this all alone because you are too stubborn to ask for the help of those around you.

Take a look at what one overwhelmed and, self admitting, stubborn caregiver has to say about community and asking for help

Help me, please; I’m a caregiver

By Nell Noonan
This story was originally published in Interpreter Magazine.

Why, oh, why do caregivers think they have to do everything by themselves? Is it our rugged American individualism or some kind of arrogant stoicism and pride that makes us believe our journey as caregivers must be a solo venture?

According to November 2012 statistics from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, I am one of 65.7 million unpaid caregivers for family or friends in the United States. I imagine that the majority, like me, have a hard time asking for help.

I was well into the seven and a half years of my caregiving odyssey with my husband before I stopped saying, “No, thanks; we’re doing just fine.” Truthfully, I was sleep deprived, depressed, sad, stressed and heartsick. Year after year after year, I watched a truly good human being suffer in excruciating pain. I also had a torn rotator cuff and bad back from physically assisting my 220-pound husband from bed to lift chair to wheelchair.

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Meet Pearlie

Pearlie1Pearlie has lived in congregate care for most of her adult life.  With the assistance of the CLOUD Project in SC, Georgetown County Board of Disabilities and Special Needs was able to offer her the opportunity to have her first home.  In July 2014, Pearlie moved in an apartment on her own and maintains her independence with supports from door and window sensors and a stove sensor.

Each day after Pearlie comes home from work, she likes to iron her clothes for the next day and cook her dinner.  Her direct care staff recognized that Pearlie is capable of preparing meals with minimal support, but they wanted to ensure that stove safety did not become an issue.  Currently,  a SimplyHome sensor alerts the staff if Pearlie has left the stove on too long or if she turns on the stove during night hours.  Their goal is to use the data from the sensor to support their care management with the hope of eventually using local announcements to cue Pearlie to monitor stove safety on her own.Pearlie2