By MARK F. GRAY, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Challenges in caring for loved ones with special needs can cause pressure on those who must make their lives comfortable in later years. The needs to be met are both practical and emotional and often put strains on family relationships.
Author Teraleen Campbell understands the pressure that goes with caring for an indigent family member in their final years. As an only child she faced the task of caring for her mother as an only child for the last six years of her mother’s life.
In her book from “Carefree to Caregiver,” Campbell discusses what caregivers face when trying to comfort loved ones who need full time attention and the affect it can have on their lives. She uses her experiences from the time caring for her mother as a way to tell help shed light on facing the challenges of her responsibility and to provide counseling to those who may be approaching this critical juncture in their lives.
“It can be a difficult road when you’re trying to take care of a parent or a spouse when they can no longer do for themselves,” Campbell told the AFRO. “When the normal routine of life is lost, and you have to assume that responsibility it can be overwhelming”.
Family caregivers are the unsung heroes of this generation. With baby boomers living longer – even with health challenges – their support has become vital in handling the personal matters that accompany those twilight years.
Instead of framing the narrative in a desperate light, she puts her challenges in an inspirational form that paints a picture of optimism and gives the reader hope. The book is formatted as 31-day devotional book. Each daily passage provides an inspirational reading in addition to a prayer and space for journaling.
Being a caregiver is not limited to providing medical care. It also includes working with medical staff to ensure that quality care is provided. Additionally, there are often legal and financial considerations.
In most cases, caregivers feel unprepared for the level of responsibilities that they must assume. Long term caregiving can lead to burn out, especially if the caregiver has not adjusted their life to successfully balance their new role.
“I realized the importance of taking some time to focus on me and what I was dealing with, in addition to processing what was happening in my life. I became mindful that if I wasn’t healthy, I couldn’t adequately care for my mother. “
According to data from AARP, 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child for at least 12 months. Nearly one in six working adults have responsibilities of providing care for a family member. Additionally, 69% of working caregivers caring for a family member or friend report having to rearrange their work schedule, decrease their hours, or take an unpaid leave in order to meet their caregiving responsibilities. These situations can adversely affect the mental and physical health of the very caregivers who are providing support for others.
Campbell, who is also a minister at Greater Mt. Calvary Holy Church in Washington, D.C., noticed as she was putting her stories to paper that there were not many books that addressed the African American community’s perils when facing becoming caregivers. She hopes that this book will help to make it easier for those families to address the issues to prepare them for the hard decisions they will face, should they become caregivers.
“In our community people don’t want to discuss transitional lifestyle decisions,” Campbell adds. “Its tough handling things by yourself and hopefully this book will be of comfort and support”.