“My parents are snowbirds and go to Arizona every winter,” says professional and family caregiver Deb Trygstad. Deb lives in Erhard, Minnesota, a small town about 40 minutes south of Detroit Lakes and a 2016 population of 150 people. In preparation to come home from Arizona, Deb’s mother fell and broke her hip and shoulder. “Helping my parents understand and navigate health systems long-distance was wearing,” says Deb.
Like all family caregivers, Deb’s main concern is the wellbeing of her parents. Deb asks herself questions like: Are they free from pain? Are they safe? Are they lonely? This makes self-care the most challenging part of being a family caregiver. “Helping to assist and provide care for elderly parents stops time for the caregiver,” says Deb. “It is sometimes hard to find your own life, goals and mission again when you need to.”
Deb works in long-term care as a professional caregiver and has noticed a drastic shortage of caregivers in the industry. She asks, “What will it be like when baby boomers start to really need care?” This is why Deb believes senior care issues should matter to all Minnesotans. “This issue will touch all of our lives at some point,” says Deb. “We have to get the word out to everyone.”
Deb urges all Minnesotans to consider how they want to age and how they can help older loved ones age well. First, people need to look at their own situation and determine how to age mindfully. Good questions to consider are: What is my health like and how can I improve it? And what plans do I have for aging in place? Second, we can learn about the importance of caregiving by caring for our aging loved ones. “You cannot know what caregiving is like until you experience it,” says Deb.
The rewards of caregiving are great, says Deb. “I see my mother’s hands in my hands and treasure all the time we have together.”
Thank you for sharing your story with us, Deb. Your voice is vital as we advocate for awareness and address the needs that accompany the reality of a rapidly aging society.
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