Sherry is a caregiver for her husband, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. At the start of her caregiving journey, Sherry struggled to find caregiving communities, and it was difficult for her to share her concerns with others. However, once she made those connections, and found others that shared her feelings and experiences, she felt more supported.
Sherry believes that policy makers need to realize that services for caregivers and care receivers are similar. She feels a focus on the care team would be helpful and those services should be viewed as part of a family wellness plan. Services that Sherry believes would be helpful to her as a caregiver include in-home therapy for her or her children, in-home bible study, and a health coach so she can maintain her own health. These supportive services would help her be the best caregiver she can be.
Sherry feels that once you become a caregiver, your identity changes. In the beginning of her journey, she struggled with depression, as she felt there was a stigma attached to all the changes her new reality brought about – and that stigma made difficult decisions even harder. As a corporate executive, she felt torn between her professional responsibilities and the needs of her husband. She felt judged at work for missing meetings, having assignments given away, losing a board seat – all part of her own story of loss. She wishes her employer had incentives to go beyond workplace policy and look for innovative and flexible ways to support her. Ultimately, it took her 7 years and 3 employers to find a place that truly allowed her to work and be the caregiver she and her husband needed her to be. Caregiving is an expensive experience. Sherry worries about finances a lot – many caregivers struggle with bankruptcy and ruined credit. Sherry agrees that there need to be innovative solutions to prevent these detrimental impacts of caregiving to minimize caregiver burden and loss.