November 20, 2019
When Frank was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in his 50s, his wife, Evelyn, was overwhelmed. As Frank became more fragile, she needed more help than she ever anticipated. Thankfully, she found Easterseals Community Outreach Program and the many supports for caregivers. Easterseals connected Evelyn with answers and resources to help her navigate the challenges of caregiving. Not only did Easterseals help her find support from other caregivers walking the same path, it also provided respite grants which have allowed her to take a break knowing Frank was in capable hands.
“Some days I am so busy taking care of Frank that I forget to even brush my teeth,” Evelyn says with a laugh. “Respite is like heaven. I love it because I can go away and not worry. I am happier when I am able to take a break and it is something I look forward to. I couldn’t survive without it.”
November is National Family Caregivers month. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are more than 34 million family caregivers, in the U.S. One of the greatest needs of these caregivers is respite or a temporary relief for caregivers and families who are caring for children or adults with disabilities, chronic or terminal illness, or the elderly.
Caregiving can be an exhausting job, especially when the caregiver does not get time to recharge. Respite is an option through Easterseals Lifespan Respite Program, which provides funds to support family caregivers providing care to a person of any age or disability.
Using the respite grant to pay for Frank’s care, Evelyn was able to go away with her friends to Florida on a trip she dubbed “Grannies Gone Wild.” The group was able to enjoy the beach, the pool, staying in their pajamas all day and eating on their own schedule. She was also able to visit her sister, who she is not able to see often, in Myrtle Beach. During these trips, Evelyn is able to take a break from not only the mental exhaustion, but the physical demands of caregiving.
Evelyn also took advantage of Easterseals Savvy Caregiver series where she met other caregivers living with a similar situation. The Savvy Caregiver series provides knowledge and skills essential to those who are caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
“I think it is important to see how others are dealing with the same thing as you are. You learn more resources from others,” Evelyn says. “It is great to know you are not alone.”