I’m one of millions of Americans who was unexpectedly tossed into caregiving. It was my father. Although his illness worsened over the course of six years–the last six years of his life, it now seems as though his independence vanished overnight. I never considered myself to be a caregiver. I was just doing what people have done for ages, and what they continue to do everyday. I was a daughter. I became a personal shopper, and a medical expert on the progression of his illness, and a social worker. At least, that’s what it felt like.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I understood that my family’s experience was bearing a heavy cost. I learned that we were not just my father’s loved ones. We were his caregivers, whether or not we wanted to be. And that realization opened my eyes to an epidemic that is affecting people I know and meet everywhere I go.
Not only am I a former caregiver, but I’m a professional. I’ve worked in social service, service older adults and people with disabilities for nearly ten years. I’m also a freelance writer, native Chicagoan, and a mother of two amazing boys.