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Stuck between old and new: Black caregivers deal with stress

STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 5/17/2012, 1:25 p.m.

"When you're ready to ask for assistance, try to silence any negative thoughts about imposing," said the spokesperson. "Keep in mind that people like to help others, especially those they care about."

VNSNY also spoke of the evils of never saying "Yes." "Daily caregiving can be overwhelming and isolating," said the spokesperson. "If someone offers help, take it. Accepting help doesn't mean you've failed or aren't showing enough love, and many will find that if they ask for help, family and friends are more than happy to assist family caregivers in coordinating help with daily activities such as meals, rides, and errands."

The spokesperson also recommended joining a caregiver support group in person or via telephone or joining a respite program that would allow you to take a break and get away without feeling guilty. However, guilt is a hard feeling to get rid of when you're responsible for another person's daily life.

The elderly Harlem caregiver is not the only case that Peg is seeing. For the past eight years, she worked with a Harlem woman with MS in her mid-30s who couldn't speak and had two teenage children. The woman's 50-year-old mother moved in and now takes care of her and the children along with the father.

The mother is now stressed out, sleep deprived and has never been on vacation or had weekend visits to friends' houses. Peg spoke to the woman about finding a community at a church that she could use as a support group. Peg also coordinated 24-hour care for the patient for three days a week, which reduced the burden on the caregiver.

Sometimes help isn't a luxury, it's a necessity.

For those who want more information about VNSNY and the programs they provide, call (800) 675-0391 or visit www.VNSNY.org. To learn about caregiver resources, visit www.VNSNY.org/caregiver.