Being a caregiver for a loved one can be one of the most challenging roles a person can take on. But with the right kind of planning, it can also be one of the most rewarding. Several caregiving advocates and experts recently shared their experiences and advice with Jean Chatzky, AARP’s financial ambassador and host of the HerMoney podcast.
In a special recording of her podcast during the AARP Family Caregiving 2018 summit in December 2017 in Washington, D.C., Chatzky also explored the resources available to help caregivers manage their responsibilities. Joining her were author Lee Woodruff, the cofounder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation; Sheila Lirio Marcelo, the founder, chairwoman and CEO of Care.com; and actress and activist Holly Robinson Peete.
During the podcast, Woodruff recounted the traumatic brain injury her husband, ABC newsman Bob Woodruff, sustained while reporting in Iraq and the impact of being thrust into the role of caregiver for her spouse while she was also caring for their young children and her aging parents.
“I had to put everything about myself on hold for at least a year,” Woodruff said. “You move through with an adrenaline that carries you till you crash, and that’s a part that most caregivers probably don’t talk about.” The experience led the Woodruffs, in 2006, to create the Bob Woodruff Foundation, which provides support to organizations that help veterans and their caregivers.
Robinson Peete shared her story of being a caregiver — first for her father, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when she was 19, and later for her autistic son. She said that being part of the sandwich generation — those who care for children while also caring for aging parents or relatives — “is no joke.”
“When it comes to your loved ones and caregiving, you really don’t have any choice,” Peete said. “You just have to get to work taking care of the people that you love, especially when they really only have you to advocate for them.”
Chatzky also chatted with Marcelo about her work as a female entrepreneur who created Care.com, a website that connects people with caregivers. Following the summit, Care.com and AARP announced the launch of the Care Institute, an initiative to develop workforce training programs to address the growing need for care professionals in the United States.