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AARP AARP States New Mexico Uncategorized

Saturday Night Mixer Gives Caregivers a Chance to Relax and Unwind


The stories are all too familiar ­­– shuttling loved ones off to appointments when they refuse to get dressed, relationship problems that don’t magically go away because you are now caring for that person; and finding the strength to do what needs to be done.

All common themes shared by New Mexico caregivers while having the chance to relax and unwind during a special AARP New Mexico Caregivers Mixer held Saturday, Feb. 7, at St. Clair’s Winery in Albuquerque.

After having a chance to visit, caregivers were invited to share their stories on the challenges, strengths and joys of taking care of a loved one. As stories were shared, people in the audience would nod or shake their heads relating to someone else’s experience.

Mayra Trujillo, of Albuquerque, has her hands full taking care of her six children but looks at being able to also take care of her father, who suffers from diabetes, as a blessing.

“I would say a strength is being able to take care of my family. I’m a caretaker at heart. I enjoy being able to do that,” Trujillo said.

Ann Feurstein, of Rio Rancho, cares for her husband Larry, who is currently battling cancer, said it’s having time that is a strength.

“You realize how fragile life is and how you need to cherish every moment,” she said.

For Marjorie Kirkel, of Albuquerque, one of the biggest challenges for her is not being able to take care of her husband, who suffers from dementia, at home.

“He weighs 180 pounds. He can’t walk. There is no way I can lift him. He can’t come home. He asks once a week to go home and I have to explain again why he can’t,” Kirkel said.

The one item Kirkel would like to see someone work on is transportation. After a recent hospital stay, she had to hire an ambulance to take him back to the assisted living facility at a cost of $203. He didn’t really need an ambulance, just a ride home, she said.

A number of challenges that were brought up resonated with attendees. One group discussed the lack of resources, knowing where to turn for help, and how to get help paying for things such as hearing aids and other needs.

One of the group’s members talked about picking your battles. She said if your loved one is refusing to get dressed to go to a doctor’s appointment, let them wear their pajamas – as long as they’re clean who cares. It wasn’t worth the argument. The comment drew smiles from several attendees, who apparently had been there.

“One of the main reasons for having this mixer was not only to give family caregivers the opportunity to just relax and take a break from their daily duties but to also share stories so people would know they aren’t alone,” said Shanna Lapsley, AARP New Mexico Associate State Director for Multi-Cultural Outreach. “We also wanted them to know there are resources out there to help. Too often people don’t know where to turn.”

AARP New Mexico hopes to have similar events in the future and currently does presentations on preparing to care for a loved one as well as a Caregiver’s Boot Camp, which puts caregivers in touch with resources and community groups for support. Visit for upcoming events.

Family caregivers can also share their stories at a special site designed just for caregivers at

(photo caption: Josie Alderete and her husband Leroy Alderete visit with Susan Griego, all of Albuquerque, at the AARP New Mexico Caregivers Mixer. The mixer was a chance for caregivers to relax and share stories about the joys and challenges of caregiving.)

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