Thank you for the opportunity to communicate the truly life-saving value the HFC In-Home Care Grant has for those that are caring for a loved one.
Why did you apply for an HFC Care Grant?
I chose to care for my beloved mother because for me, there was no other option. I would not have entrusted her care to anyone else. She raised 7 children and was married for 61 years. She was the epitome of what a mother should be; a beautiful woman inside and out who sacrificed everything for her family. She nurtured and supported us and taught us the value of respecting others and respecting ourselves.
When I left the job I loved to care for my mother 24/7, I could have never imagined the toll it would take on me. Caregiving sucks the life from you, physically, spiritually and mentally. I found when I first began caring for my mom, the thought of getting respite was just not something I could accept. There was this guilt feeling attached to leaving her in the hands of someone else. Because I took on this responsibility, I needed to uphold my end of the bargain. Eventually, the heavy burden I was carrying, as well as, encouragement from loved ones, changed my thought process on getting respite. I began to research what options may be available in my area. I soon came to the conclusion that the reality was, there was barely any help out there. I mean, virtually no financial aid for the thousands of people who take on the care of a loved one. The catch twenty-two with my experience was because I had left my job, I had no income. My mom and I were living on her pension which was not allot and all her social security benefits went to into paying for her health insurance. So, scraping together $25. an hour for someone to give me respite relief was out of the question. I found HFC as I searched the web looking for aid. I knew if I didn’t find a way to get some relief, my health and well being would be in jeopardy. I applied to HFC because I knew this caregiving role was going to get worse as my mother’s health declined and I needed a break to maintain my sanity.
What did the HFC Care Grant allow you to do as a caregiver?
The HFC Grant gave me hours to care for myself. Go to doctor and dentist appointments and, on occasion, just have some sorely needed alone time. I would walk my dogs or go to the beach or work in my neglected perennial gardens. The activities that I had previously taken for granted, that could no longer be scheduled because the focus was no longer on me, it was on my beloved mother.
How are you better off as a caregiver because of the HFC Care Grant?
There are not enough words to describe the value of the HFC Grant. I truly cannot imagine my physical or mental state of mind without getting these hours of respite and, additionally, to not have to worry on how I was going to scape up the money to pay for someone to care for my mom so I could get away. I do not think I am overstating this grant saved my life.
What advice would you give to other caregivers?
Wow, that’s a very deep question. At the beginning of my caregiving journey, I wanted to punch anyone who said to me, “remember, to take care of yourself.” I mean, I physically wanted to punch them in the face and this is coming from a very gentle, nonviolent person. How in the world did I even have an extra minute to take care of myself while caring for my loved one who had Alzheimer’s and the debilitating effects of a major stroke? Do not lecture me on taking care of myself. Then, the weight of caregiving gave me no other choice. I had to find help. I had to let go of my guilt and allow someone else to come in and help me. I got financial help through HFC and mental help through a local support group and I found something personal that I used to do and began to do it. For me, it was writing. I tried to squeeze out a few minutes a day when my loved one was sleeping to journal the feelings and emotions I was experiencing. It was a small release, but any release was welcomed. And finally, I would say to another caregiver, the sacrifice you are now making is not forever. There will be a day after your loved one passes that the burden you are carrying will be lifted. I could have never imagined that day while I was living the life of a caregiver. The daily routine seemed to never end. When it does end, you will NEVER regret your selflessness with what you did in the name of love.
What’s your hope for the future?
I pray the future plight of the caregiver is more recognized by our society. I hope the recognition that hundreds of thousands of people are leaving their jobs to care for a loved one brings more financial aid and support. It is mind-blowing to me how little help is out there for those that have chosen to take on the caregiving responsibility.
My personal hope the future is to get back into life. My mother died in January of this year. I had lived with her in my home for 14 years and left my job and cared for her 24/7 for 3 years. It was the most difficult, but the most rewarding position I had ever held. In the midst of it all, I also fought my own battle with breast cancer. I am now cancer free, and I am in the process of writing a book on my caregiving journey. I am not looking to get on the bestseller list, but I am hoping my personal honest and raw emotional experiences with caregiving will give hope to others that are currently living in the difficult journey of caregiving.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for offering the HFC In-Home Care Grant. I could never find the words to truly express its value to those of us who have sacrificed so much to care for someone we love.