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Year of the Caregiver: Accepting the realities of aging means exploring community services to help caregivers

By Judi Bonilla

A wise teacher once told me, “The trick to life is to be a gracious giver and a gracious receiver.”

Gracious acceptance is an art – an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving.

Is fear holding you back from being a better caregiver? Is fear holding you back on being better at self care?

Fear is a fascinating creature. It warns us to step out of the way of a falling object. It factors into a “calculated” risk. It can also imprison us in behaviors that do not serve us.

Often as a caregiver, we seek to establish a new normal, in a life we may have not planned. We stick to a routine that slowly becomes our new normal. What if that new life that we have created is not the best choice for us?

Is fear holding you back from a better life?

Caring for older parents is a unique experience. Your loved one is an adult with a lifetime of experience. They too may have been a caregiver and have felt the similar conflict of emotions you may now have.

Understand for every caregiver relationship there are four people involved.

  • The parent who may have raised you.
  • The parent who now needs caregiving.
  • The child who received caregiving.
  • The child who is now the caregiver.

Two children, two adults all four moving at different speeds to accept the reality of aging. Understand and accept these complex relationships as you explore community resources.

To make your caregiving relationship work requires care, nurturing, and support. Cities and communities have long been preparing for an aging population, and often offer the following services and programs:


Individual counseling sessions with licensed clinicians is often available to caregivers. These professional can objectively listen and provide emotional support, skill development, and helpful strategies to improving your caregiving experience.

Financial/Legal Consultation

Non-profit organizations often provide services that include: Advance Healthcare Directives, Medicare, Powers of Attorney, trusts, and wills.

Respite Care

Working through an agency prescreened and trained individuals provide caregivers a break from the routine of caregiving. This service is often provided in home and arrangements are made with the individual and the caregiver.

Support Groups

There are now a variety of both in person and online groups that meet daily and monthly. The ability to connect with others with similar experiences is an excellent way to relax and relieve stress.


Most cities offer senior transportation programs. These include a volunteer driver program that can be used for non-emergency personal grooming, business, and medical appointments. Individuals from the community volunteer their time and personal vehicle to transport non-drivers to their appointments.

Now is the time to move beyond your fear. To move from your comfort zone and accept the help from those who are waiting to support you.

For Community Resources Nationwide

Eldercare Locator

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