Eight years ago Judy Gronkowski’s world turned upside down.
Judy’s husband Roman spent 37 years in elected office in Michigan.
But in March of 2001, the City Treasurer for Southfield had a stroke.
Doctors didn’t think he’d even make it out of the hospital, but after four months in a rehab center Roman came home.
Since then Judy has been his primary caregiver.
“I wouldn’t consider putting him anywhere except in our own home,” Judy said.
It’s a growing issue, especially with Baby Boomers. Many of them are having to make difficult choices about how to care for their aging parents.
Mary Hrinko works for the Riverside County Office on Aging Caregiver Support Program.
She says the tough economic times are definitely affecting family caregivers in our area.
“They are having a hard time making their budgets stretch and therefore they cant hire in home care,” Hrinko said.
That’s where the Office on Aging comes in. They offer a tie in to a lot of home support services and care management programs.
They can link you with a social worker who will help you assess the situation – including the budget.
Caregiving costs can be a huge stress for families.
According to an AARP report, family caregivers of people over 50 spent $5,531 out of pocket in 2007 to care for their aging loved ones. That spending is often coupled with lost workdays and wages.
“There’s a lot of struggle between balancing work and elder care,” Hrinko said. “We know from studies theres a lot of absenteeism as a result.”
Home caregiving can also take a huge emotional toll.
“There is a lot of depression actually that goes along with caregiving,” Hrinko said. “A lot of anxiety. We see morbidity in caregivers.”
Hrinko emphasizes the importance of taking time out from caring for your loved one.
She says a respite break, anything from a half an hour in a bathtub to a day out, is really important.
Judy Gronkowski relies on her two sons to take their Dad one day a week so she can go do whatever she wants.
“It’s amazing how much better you feel when you come back, even after a few hours,”
Judy says she doesn’t think about the difficulties, theres up and down days, but she’s grateful just to have Roman still by her side.