“My mom was the type of woman who always liked to be on the go,” said Pat, a 52-year old Milwaukee single mom and foster parent who also cares for her elderly mom, Lois “We would shop together, go for a walk or pick up the grandkids and take them to the lakefront. That was one of her favorite things to do.” The dynamic of their relationship suddenly changed when Lois was diagnosed with dementia in 2011 and Pat became her full-time caregiver.
Pat is not alone in feeling squeezed. According to the Pew Research Center, just over 1 of every 8 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent. “Taking care of a parent with dementia was a bit of a struggle for me at first,” said Pat “I was in denial my mother was sick, but at the same time I was having to child proof my own home to keep her from getting into things.”
35% of caregivers report having difficulty finding time for one’s self, 29% had difficulty balancing work and family responsibilities and 30% said they needed help keeping the person they care for safe (National Alliance for Caregiving).
“We know that when caregivers have a reliable option for their loved one, not only is the family’s economic stability supported through regular income, but the overall health and well-being of all family members is protected,” says Beth Mark, Health Portfolio Manager at United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County.
As a single mother and fostering children while working a full time job, Pat needed to find a place that would keep her 73-year old mom safe and busy during the day. The United Way-funded Aurora Adult Day Center is able to provide this resource.
“I am so grateful for programs like the Aurora Adult Day Center. Attending the center helps my mom socialize, participate in activities and exercise. It helps me keep a healthy work life balance,” Pat said.
“Without funding from United Way we would not be able to provide the kinds of activities that keep our clients’ minds and bodies active,” said Valerie Ruppel, Program Supervisor for Aurora Adult Day Center.
Last year, 98% of adults who attended United Way-funded Adult Support Programs joined social activities and 87% of them felt they were treated with respect and dignity.
As Lois’s disease continues to progress, Pat has embraced the challenges of her new role and takes pride in knowing she is able to give her mom the best care possible.
“I do what I have to do, this is my mom,” said Pat. “I have to take care of her. Besides, there’s no better care like a daughter’s care for her mother.”
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