11 February 2014

A Caregiver in Her 20s Shares Her Story


Caregiver grocery shopping

Many of us assume that we won’t have to become caregivers for our parents until at least our 30s or 40s. Often that’s true. The average age of a caregiver is 48, according to research by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

But caregivers include many younger adults like Samantha Burkett, who describes her experiences in in the November 2013 issue of Better Homes and Gardens. In her 20s, Burkett has full responsibility for overseeing the care of her widowed mother, who had a brain aneurysm in ten years ago and lives in an assisted living facility. That adjustment hasn’t always been easy. “My mom understands why I make the decisions, but she has trouble accepting the situation,” Burkett told the magazine. “It’s frustrating when she questions my choices, like when I tell her she can’t just hop in a cab without telling anyone where she’s going.” 

As challenging as such moments can be, Burkett gained perspective on them when her mother’s doctor told her: “You need to take care of yourself, so you can take care of your mom.” Burkett began working with a counselor “who taught me how to step back when my emotions get too intense and to ask for help when I need it.”

Two other women also share their caregiving experiences in the Better Homes and Gardens article “Take Care,” and although it isn’t online, you may want to look for it at your library.  The message of their stories? For all the rocky moments it can involve, caregiving can lead to personal growth and stronger relationships with the people we love.

Bottom line: taking good care of yourself is particularly important when you are taking care of other people. 

This post was written by Sharon Teitelbaum, Master Certified Coach, www.stcoach.com.