Read about North Seattle resident and caregiver Corie Borish and learn about King County Caregiver Support Network resources in the Fall 2012 issue of Spotlight (Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens, City of Seattle).
Caregiver Stress & Support Services Forum
On July 31, 2012, several family and kinship caregivers shared their stories at a special forum hosted by the Seattle City Council and coordinated by Aging and Disability Services, Seattle Human Services Department. Seattle City Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Bruce Harrell, Nick Licata, Mike O’Brien and Tom Rasmussen participated in the event. Watch the video on the Seattle Channel website.
Silvia and Pablo Olivares
Mr. Pablo Olivares began showing signs of Alzheimer’s type dementia about four to five years prior to his diagnosis. Silvia, his wife, felt angry and frustrated when he asked the same questions over and over again. She had to constantly assist him with medication management, personal hygiene, meals, medical appointments, and even finding personal items, which he often lost. This ongoing responsibility prompted frustration as well as high levels of stress in Silvia.
Despite having children and extended family in the area, Silvia was the main caregiver for Pablo. Initially, their children avoided providing respite for Silvia with the excuse: “Mom, you don’t work, we do.” She continued to manage on her own until one dreadful day when Pablo went out the front door and was missing for nearly 24 hours.
The first call to the Alzheimer’s Association Helpline came from the building manager where Silvia and Pablo live. The Olivares were referred to the El Portal NW program of the Alzheimer’s Association, which provides culturally and linguistically appropriate services to Latino caregivers. The El Portal NW care consultant, Estela Ochoa, visited within a week to discuss their situation.
During their visit, Estela found out that Silvia was under tremendous stress as a result of her caregiving responsibilities. Estela learned that one family member was unwilling to accept the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, despite obvious signs. Estela convened a family meeting to encourage them to support Silvia in her caregiving role. The family was resistant at first, but Estela was persistent and provided them with good education about dementia. She even gave them examples of families who had been in their same situation and scenarios of poorly planned alternatives as well as positive outcomes to thoughtful planning.
After discussing the potential negative outcomes of a poorly planned caregiving situation, Silvia decided to complete a TCARE assessment. The assessment revealed that her level of stress was high. One recommended service was a memory care wellness program, and there were many other options to relieve her high stress level.
The initial memory wellness referral was to Full Life South branch. The South branch did not have staff to address Pablo’s cultural and linguistic needs; however, their Kent site had Spanish-speaking staff who addressed Pablo’s and Silvia’s needs in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.
Five months after the original call, Mr. and Mrs. Olivares are doing much better. Silvia has respite two days per week and she feels better overall. Their children remain somewhat distant; however, they understand her caregiving situation and offer help occasionally.
Silvia calls Estela at least once a week to thank her for giving her options to care for her husband. Silvia refers to Estela as her guardian angel because, without the help received through the caregiver support program, Silvia’s choices were limited and she felt dismal.
Now that Silvia’s stress level is reduced, she attends support groups regularly. Often, she tells newcomers that, without the program, “I would have no other choice than to place Pablo in a nursing home.“ Silvia and the rest of the family are happy that is not the case. Pablo continues to live at home with a structured schedule and a good plan for the future.
- Family Caregiver Boom: A National Perspective, by Nancy Hooyman, PhD, Professor, School of Social Work; Principal Investigator, Gero-Ed Center (Washington State Senior Citizens’ Foundation Fall Conference, 11/26/12)
- Supporting Family Caregivers: A Wise Investment in Washington State Families, by Roy Walker, MS, Director, Olympic Area Agency on Aging (Washington State Senior Citizens’ Foundation Fall Conference, 11/26/12)
- Yoga reduces stress; now it’s known why (UCLA study helps caregivers of people with dementia)
- Caregiving Statistics
- Selected Caregiver Statistics
- Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS)
- Census (pending)