Caregiver Journey Spotlight: Jennifer & Donna’s Story

The following shares the story of Donna and her Caregiver Journey. The Careforth team thanks Donna for her openness to share her experience so that others who identify with her may take similar steps to build support and connections in their own journey.

Donna always knew she would play the role of caregiver at some point in her life. Donna’s sister, Jennifer, was born with cerebral palsy and lived with her and Donna’s grandparents in Louisiana for most of her life. Despite being 4 years younger than Jennifer, Donna always felt that she and Jennifer had a unique relationship growing up and Donna describes it “like having a little sister who never grew up.” After their grandparents passed away, Donna took on the role of full-time caregiver for her sister.

In their day-to-day life, Donna offers support and consistency for Jennifer, helping her bathe and get ready, and assisting with other tasks and mobility challenges. Jennifer often experiences anxiety in the face of change, so she relies on Donna for stability in routine. Additionally, Donna’s husband, who has mobility challenges and relies on a wheelchair, also relies on her for support. Donna’s background in case management and as an administrative assistant helped equip her with the skills to provide this care and routine for her sister and husband, but there are still challenges that come with the role.

Learning the Importance of Self Care for Caregivers

Although Donna anticipated that she would eventually be a caregiver, there is one aspect of caregiving that she still finds quite difficult – taking care of herself. “I get overwhelmed with taking care of everyone else and often forget about myself. It’s taken years to learn it, but I have to remember to stop and make time for me,” said Donna. In Donna’s caregiving journey, self-care and taking care of her own mental health have proven to be crucial to providing good care, as well as finding the right support.

To help strike a balance and better manage the demands of caregiving, Donna sought out external sources of support. Although Jennifer and Donna had always been active in the disability community, they found that there were few community resources available for the elderly disabled in Louisiana. However, in connecting with Medical Resources and Monitored In-Home Caregiving, Donna learned about Careforth, which offered the additional support that she was looking for.

How Careforth Connected Donna to Caregiving Resources 

Jennifer and Donna’s Careforth care team was able to help get Jennifer the equipment she needed – a hospital bed, lifts, wheelchair, and more – and assisted in finding more state-based programs and resources that improved both Jennifer and Donna’s quality of life and expanded their support network. When Jennifer was able to travel more, she and Donna would take trips together and spend quality time with one another, and Careforth’s support gave them the ability to do so. For Donna, being able to see her sister happy and add this independence and support to her life is what brings her joy and makes the challenges of caregiving worth it.

At Careforth, we strive to provide you with the resources and connections that ensure you feel supported at every turn in your caregiving journey. Visit the How We Help page on our site to learn more about how Careforth supports caregivers or contact us for more information.

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