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AARP AARP States Virginia

Caregivers Listening Session


Their stories were sad and poignant. And there was some humor as well. Caregivers had a chance to tell their stories at the AARP Listening Session on Tuesday, May 7, at the Montclair Community Library in Prince William County.

Organized by AARP to hear from family caregivers, this listening session was intended to inform AARP, the state legislature, and the media about the challenges of caregiving. AARP is working on state legislation to provide an income tax credit for eligible family caregivers in Virginia.

Sharon, of Dumfries, passionately shared her experience taking care of her mother who lives two blocks away from her, and the additional challenge of caring for her ill husband at home as well.

Bill, from Springfield, takes care of his disabled spouse. He emphasized how important it is to “do something for me” without his wife around. Conversely, he gives his wife her own space, letting her have social time with her friends without him. They share a ritual every bedtime when they go over the day’s news and significant events, then go to bed with their arms around each other.

Blake, of Kingstowne, shared his tremendous guilt after he put his mother in assisted living when her dementia did not make it safe for her to stay with him. In his words, “you lose a loved one twice; first when the person gets dementia, and then when he or she passes away.”

These and other stories about caring for loved ones struck many chords in the audience. Themes and pearls of wisdom emerged. Among them were: “All caregivers are different, as a caregiver you have to find ways that are meaningful to you, you take care of yourself and find a way not to beat up yourself, look for humor, each story is different yet part of a whole.....”

AARP State President Carol Downs moderated the session. A number of government officials and employees were eager listeners at the event, namely Marlon Dubuisson from U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly’s office (11th congressional district), Chris Fleury from Virginia House Delegate Elizabeth Guzman’s office (31st district) and David Wescott, Prince William County Legislative Liaison. Linda Moore from the Prince William County Area Agency on Aging also attended.

Reported by:
Xenia Montenegro, AARP Community Ambassador
May 8, 2019

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