Rachel from Missouri

I have been supporting my grandma to age in place as her primary caregiver for about two years now. As the sole living relative to my grandmother, who was an only child (like myself), the responsibility of her care falls completely on me.

Since my mom was a single parent, I spent a lot of time with my grandmother growing up while my mom was at work. My grandma taught me how to read, fed and clothed me, took me everywhere with her, and helped my mom when she had trouble making ends meet. Even after I became “too cool” for Grandma and I was able to look after myself, she always looked out for us, making sure I had everything I need to get a quality education, accomplish my dreams, and have an opportunity to build a life for myself. So when she needed someone to step in and help her so that she could age in place, I felt it was only right for me to take care of her now as she needs an increased level of support.

It has been quite the journey. Since that time, I’ve learned more than I ever want to know about what it’s like to grow old in today’s world. Over the past two years, I have been learning to balance the role of a family caregiver. My life is much different now than I would have ever dreamed before I took on this role. Now, my life revolves around staying employed while maintaining my caregiving responsibilities.

While it is true that there are many demands and stresses caused by caregiving, I find that the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. Caregiving has truly been a blessing to me. Since I’ve been helping my grandma, I have learned more about time management, care coordination, navigating health care, ostomy care, cooking and meal planning, nutrition, advocacy, and the list goes on and on. The things I have learned while caring for my grandma will help me in my own life, and I can use my experiences to help others. Taking care of my grandma has also helped me get to know her on a whole new level now that I am an adult.

My grandma wishes to remain in her home as long as she can. We have implemented technology to help her stay safe at home, leveraged our personal relationships, and capitalized on community resources to help provide her support and continue to learn together as we travel along this point of her life trajectory.