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Caring for Sarah

I am a 51-year-old Latino male who, in many respects, is no different from your average Baby Boomer. I have a steady job, a loving family, and a warm and welcoming home waiting for me at the end of the day.

Yet, I am also part of a growing and mostly silent group of individuals: caregivers. It’s a growing group, estimated at 42 million across the nation. And it’s a silent group – we don’t talk much about what we do.

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My mom, Sarah

I care for my mom. She’s 87 and lives with us. I’m an only child, there’s no one else who would or could care for her. And as a Latino, I entertain no thought whatsoever of sending her to an institution. Not that she needs it, anyway. She’s a vibrant, funny, and smart woman. But her mobility is extremely limited. Osteoporosis has taken care of that. And she has a feeble heart, with an arrhythmia that needs a combination of drugs to keep it in check.

She requires regular visits to a number of physicians, including as of a couple of years ago an ophthalmologist as she’s also battling retinal macular degeneration.

I’m not here to tell you a sob story. I do not want anybody to feel sorry for me or her. As her main caregiver – and my wife has also helped me enormously – I do what I do out of love, respect and gratitude. And the time we spend together - my mom and I – sitting around in doctors’ waiting rooms, is a time for us to catch up and chat.

Yet, I am writing this blog because caregivers face a number of mostly unrecognized challenges. I am not just talking about the complex health issues our cares suffer. I am talking about the toll it takes on us: tolls affecting our work, our family life, and our own health both physical and mental.

I am happy to work for an organization like AARP that has made caregiving a top advocacy and policy issue. Caregiving is not an exact science. We all are learning something new each day.

I want to share some of those learnings. Both my own and those I receive from other groups and individuals. If possible, I want to make this blog a space where we talk about these issues. And if you have a story to share with me, please email me at gfcardenas@aarp.org  and I will give it space in my next blog.

This caregiving blog will likely appear three times a month. And for reasons any caregiver would understand, it’s dedicated to my mom.

In order to start the conversation, I invite you to visit the  AARP Caregiver Resource Center. There are plenty of resources, tools and information that can help caregivers like you and me take better care of our loved ones - and ourselves.

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