Caregiver Spotlight: Shannon & Brianna
Challenges of Being a New Caregiver
Being a caregiver is a tough challenge. You’re responsible for another person’s well-being, which means you have to be on your a-game all the time. This is what Shannon, and daughter, Brianna, realized after both Shannon’s parents had health complications at the same time.
Shannon and Brianna’s full story, below, shows that navigating the world as caregivers has its challenges; however, knowing you’re not alone in the process, and that there are resources available to assist in the complications, are essential in moving forward. Additionally, it’s important to think ahead, have clear communication with the senior in your life, fully understand all options, and research thoroughly on financial options.
Brianna’s grandmother was always physically active, and made sure to go to the doctor regularly; that’s why it was very unexpected when out of no where, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer of the appendix. “Our family has no history of cancer, so it was a shock to all of us,” says Brianna on the health of her grandmother. “And the fact that we didn’t have time to process through all the stages… it hit us all pretty hard.”
Later on, Brianna’s grandmother also had to have surgery to have stints in her kidneys, along with an ostomy bag, while also completing chemotherapy.
At the same time, Brianna’s grandfather was in and out of the hospital due to another unexpected health scare. He had to undergo a few surgeries, and the family was told he would have to do dialysis 3 times a week for the rest of his life.
“It was a really tough time… especially since I’m so close to my grandparents,” said Brianna. “Luckily, they’ve lived with us all our lives, so we were able to keep them at home.”
There was a lot to think about as a family. Brianna said, “my grandma’s father, my great grandfather, was in a long-term care facility as he suffered with dementia… and we decided they’re still young and not at that point, so we want to keep both grandparents at home for as long as we can.” Brianna and Shannon both monitor nurse visits, nutrition, and driving to appointments.
Evaluating your options are an important step in the caregiver process. Should you outsource and hire another caregiver? Should you move the senior in your life to a facility? If they’re staying at home, is everything easily accessible and safe? The problem Shannon and Brianna are facing: stairs. Their twostorey home in Barrie have stairs that are getting harder for their family to do everyday. Brianna relates,
“It’s tough because we have to think about whether to put in a chair assistant, or just get a whole new home altogether.”
Knowing where to find the right resources are important for challenges you’re facing for the first time. “I tried researching, but it honestly got really overwhelming,” says Brianna. “It wasn’t until I started working with Stay Home Forever that I realized that there are more financial options than I realized; more specifically, when it came to funding with nurse visits and paying for the ostomy bags.”
Life continues, and the family is settling into their roles as caregivers. “Both my grandparents have adjusted, and managed to keep their independence in the process,” Brianna reports. “It’s just nice to know that we aren’t alone, and that not only are there resources available, but there are organizations out there that are willing to help with the challenges.”