By Chris Adams
For Amy Goyer, transitioning from a receiver of care to a giver of it was never in doubt. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been tough.
Goyer is a caregiving and aging expert for AARP. She has also centered her own life around the needs of her parents, who experienced Alzheimer’s disease and other debilitating health conditions.
In a session with National Press Foundation fellows, Goyer told her own story of caring for both her mother and father; her mother died in 2013, while her father, who has Alzheimer’s disease, is still alive.
It took him a long time to get past his wife’s death. “It took two years for him to stop asking where she was,” she said.
That personal story helped illuminate what tens of millions of people in the U.S. experience each year; according to a 2015 report from the National Center on Caregiving and AARP, about 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months.
The majority of those caregivers – 82 percent – care for one other adult, while 15 percent care for two adults, and 3 percent for three or more adults.
Goyer counseled people to keep the proper mindset in their own lives, making sure that they accept help from those around them; they should spend time on themselves and “see resilience as success,” she said.
“Joy is a survival skill for caregivers,” Goyer said.