Caregivers need care too

DEAN HUMPHREY/The Daily Sentinel—Caregiver Angeline Roles helps her 91-year-old mom, Doris Rutledge, get ready for the day.

Untrained family members are usually the primary caregivers for aging and developmentally disabled relatives.

Over the long haul, the work of feeding, bathing and transporting the infirm sometimes overwhelms those caregivers, impacting their feelings of satisfaction that come from providing much needed help to a loved one.

That’s why caregivers need care too, said Dave Norman, Director of the Area Agency on Aging.

To help, the agency is hosting an all-day conference for caregivers on Wednesday. The conference takes place at Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main Street, and starts at 8 a.m.

About 2,800 households in Mesa County have someone over the age of 70 who has two or more daily living deficits, such as an inability to prepare their own food, dress themselves, use the toilet, do the shopping or drive to the doctor, Norman said.

The conference is designed to provide tools to help caregivers increase their skills, stay motivated and locate the help they need from area support agencies, he said.

“Caregivers need to continue their own life,” Norman said. “They need to keep up with their own health practices, their own ability to satisfy their needs and work their spiritual connections, their recreation. Once you start giving that up, then your own capacity is diminished and your ability to provide good care is not there.”

Untrained family members normally are the people who step up to help, he said.

Angeline Roles, information and communications coordinator for the Mesa County Department of Human Services, is one of those. She currently is the primary caregiver for her 91-year-old mother, Doris Rutledge.

“My mother was my mentor,” Roles said. “She was my role model. I mean, she raised five kids. So that means she was my rock and suddenly, that changed to the other way. The whole positive reinforcement, instead of coming from her is now coming from me.”

The old relationship a caregiver once had with their loved one often disappears due to changing mental capacity and personality that can transform a loved one into a totally different person, Norman said.

“With the start of dementia ..., she’s not the same woman that she was and that’s really hard,” Roles said. “Sometimes you just ... go home and weep a little bit about it. You go from that definite, she was my mom taking care of me to now I’m the mom taking care of her.”

While providing some tools to help caregivers cope, the conference will also provide recognition for those who go above and beyond by bestowing its Caregiver of the Year Award to one of eight people nominated this year, Norman said.

Nominees include Tabatha Savage, Linda Johnson, Twila Grinstead, Donna Jean Ganss, George Mahoney, Michael Kindig, Judy Kroeger and Mandy Brueggeman.

All were nominated because they demonstrated long-term commitment and went above and beyond for the people they cared for, Norman said.

Linda Johnson, for example, “regularly performs extra kindnesses such as singing, playing the piano, reading, playing games, massaging feet,” and preparing special food items, Ron Johnson said.

Twila Grinstead has cared for her 100 percent disabled, 83-year-old husband and her 91-year-old mother for the past 13 years.

“The things she does (are) from the heart, sincerity and love for her family and friends. She is truly a very kind and giving person,” Joy Anderson said of Grinstead.

“I don’t know what I would have done without her,” Molly Stucker said of nominee Judy Kroeger.

Adult Resources for Care and Help is a resource center available to adults 60 years and older as well as adults 18 years or older with a disability. ARCH has a “no wrong door” approach for accessing long term care services and community resources, and accomplishes that by extensive collaboration with community partners. 

It’s a sort of “one stop shop” for caregivers who need for assistance in a variety of areas, Roles said. Call (970) 248-2746 for details.


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