COLUMBUS - The Ohio Department of Aging will continue to accept submissions to its Family Caregiving Story Project through Jan. 31, 2011. Both caregivers and those who receive assistance from family members and friends are encouraged to send in their personal accounts of the challenges and triumphs that are part of caregiving relationships.
"Ohio's caregivers are large in number, and caregiving takes a variety of forms," said Barbara E. Riley, director of the department. "We have sons and daughters taking care of aging parents. We have parents providing needed assistance to children of all ages who have disabilities. We have long-married husbands who are finding the tables turned and who are providing for the ones on which they use to rely. In short, there are a lot of stories to be told about what caregiving means to Ohio."
The Caregiving Story Project is Ohio's contribution to the National Year of the Family Caregiver, sponsored by the U.S. Administration on Aging. Story submissions should be about 500-700 words long and include the author's name and location. Mail stories to:
Ohio Department of Aging
Attn: Communications Division
50 W. Broad St. / 9th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-3363
Stories also may be e-mailed to email@example.com. Stories should be received by Jan. 31, 2011. The department will use the submissions in its publications and public outreach throughout the year, and a collection of excerpts will be posted on the agency's website in the spring.
Here are some excerpts from the stories received thus far:
"I would often find myself in the same room with them and I would quietly watch the soft light in Charlie's eyes as he would gaze at his true love. This softness and the sheer magnitude of this love never, ever faded once, even as he watched the woman he so loved fade into this terrible disease. As the rest of us watched this disease rob her of her faculties and her future, he saw only the young, beautiful woman that he had married. He saw etched in her face and in her eyes the footprints of the countless memories they shared; the memories that brought her comfort as she relived them over and over. ... He didn't see the disease the rest of us saw when we looked at Marcy. He saw MARCY." - Theresa West, Westerville
"Four months ago Gladys seemed unable to stand so was admitted into a hospital. All kinds of tests were performed which showed no reason for her inability to stand, so she was admitted into a nursing home for restorative therapy (she had been taken off the herbal treatments while in the hospital). The therapy used only frightened her, so there was no progress. Harold continued his search for assistance by contacting the area agency on aging's long-term care ombudsman, who has worked tirelessly to supplement Gladys's care by communicating with the nursing home's administrator, director of nursing, etc. A different doctor was chosen who approved the use of alternative medication, so that program was reinstated. Within a few days, visitors and employees were commenting about the improvement Gladys was demonstrating and soon she was maneuvering up and down the halls in her wheel chair, singing and smiling." - Edna Grosse, Portage County
"As usual, (Mom) is first confused and then delighted to see us, even though she doesn't recognize us. ... Her sweatshirt is stained, and there are hairs growing out of her chin. I make note to speak to the nurse. But Joel doesn't seem to notice. At eleven, he's still not too big to sit on his grandma's lap and share pictures of his brothers, of his mom and dad, of his black lab, Poco. Mom points to each one and makes comments, none of them making much sense, but that doesn't bother Joel. He knows he is making his grandma happy, and that's just fine with him." - Kathleen Bolduc, Cincinnati
"The social worker looked at me and asked how I was doing. I drew a blank. I couldn't shift my thinking. I didn't know what to say. How do you begin to talk about the experience of letting go of a spouse one day at a time for years on end? Where are the words to describe the sense of having a husband, but of not having a marriage? What do you say about the depression that inevitably colors days or weeks at a time? What do you leave out because you want to protect them from your pain? What do you leave out because you don't want to feel the pain? When, if not now, do you expose the fear of what is going to happen to you? How much do they really want to know? Do they just want reassurance that you are going to keep the faith? Do they see in your face the tiredness you feel from living with loss, the drain you feel from being bounced between hope and despair, the numbness you choose when you can't feel anymore?" - Ginnie Horst Burkholder, Canton
"I guess the message I want people to come away with is despite the daily struggle that is my mom and dad's life they continue to find the joy. There is always hope for a better day, always something to look forward to and be excited about. We are not perfect. We have our pity parties and cry, mostly Mom and I, Dad gets irritable, and we move on. Rodger and Janet, they are my ultimate role models. I want to be just like them." - Kim Danner, Grove City
About ODA - The Ohio Department of Aging provides leadership for the delivery of services and supports that improve and promote quality of life and personal choice for older Ohioans, adults with disabilities, their families and their caregivers. Working with 12 area agencies on aging and other community partners, the department offers home- and community-based Medicaid waiver programs such as PASSPORT, the long-term care ombudsman program, the Golden Buckeye Card and more. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov.