Life is sweet at home

Caregivers in Bellevue WA: The Caregiver’s Marathon

Caregivers in Bellevue WA: The Caregiver’s Marathon

Every day, family members cope with the challenges of caring for ailing parents and spouses

by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly Staff

Bea Crane, 69, had a good life in New Orleans. She ran a hammock shop near the French Quarter; jazz, bistros and friends surrounded her.

Then her life drastically changed. When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, she survived by swimming through muddy floodwaters, which rose to the second-story stairs. Given the choice between being robbed and diving into the unknown dangers lurking in the water, “we took the water,” she said.

That same year it wasn’t a natural disaster but rather a familiar human concern that turned her life upside down. She came back to Palo Alto to care for her mother, Blanche Frith, who is now 101 years old. It is the caregiving, not the hurricane, that’s left Crane feeling as if she’s drowning.

She’s not alone. Family members frequently take on the all-consuming responsibility of caregiving when loved ones age or become ill. Some care for frail parents, others for an ailing spouse. Sometimes the infirmities and attendant responsibilities arise gradually; for others, a medical emergency alters life overnight.

The task is daunting, caregivers said.

“Some days, it’s a blessing to get insight into my mother. But there are times when you think you just can’t handle another minute,” said Crane, a perky, outgoing personality.

Roughly one third of all U.S. households provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend, spending an average of 20 hours per week, according to a 2009 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP.

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For information about caregivers and how we can help you care for a loved one at home, contact Andelcare at 425-283-0408.