While family caregiving is often adult children caring for their aging parents, one in five family caregivers is caring for their significant other. Research also shows spousal caregivers spend more time providing care to their loved one and are more likely to report feelings of depression. One of InnovAge’s caregivers, Linda, shared her experience navigating caregiving for her husband, Larry.
When they first met, Linda says they knew they were meant for each other. They’ve now been married 21 years. Nine years ago, Larry was diagnosed with dementia following a car accident. He became forgetful and began having trouble walking. CT scans showed signs of dementia – most likely accelerated by a head injury suffered in the accident – and medications didn’t help.
At first, Linda did it all. “I went from being a wife to being a parent,” she says. Their family physician suggested they check out InnovAge PACE to help Linda regain some time and balance in her life. They visited the Aurora PACE center
and Larry enrolled in 2014.
“It’s perfect,” Linda says. “They do everything here; I can actually go away and not worry.”
Among the things Linda finds most helpful is the coordinated healthcare
PACE provides. She knows Larry is in good hands for routine appointments like dental and eye check-ups. The structure of PACE also helps keep Larry on a routine, which is important to those with dementia.
InnovAge also provides Linda with extra support when needed, such as getting Larry to eat—a concern that recently surfaced. The InnovAge dietitians
helped her find a high-protein drink he likes.
Their InnovAge social worker
is Linda’s “go-to” person. “She’s always there when I have questions or if something goes wrong. She knows how to take care of what needs to be taken care of.”
PACE offers caregivers such as Linda a way to relieve some of their stress. “Being a caregiver is hard work,” she says. “There’s more pressure on you than them.”
Yet she’s never wavered in her resolve to care for Larry, who still calls her his queen. “It’s been a good marriage,” she says. “Without InnovAge, I don’t know how I would have gotten any peace of mind.”
Sources: Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care to Their Spouses, AARP Public Policy Institute and the United Hospital Fund, 2014, Family Caregiver Alliance, 2016