Donna Aumack cares for her 80-year-old father, Ed, who has Parkinson’s disease and lives at home with her and her husband. Donna works full time, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and her husband’s work schedule is similar. Ed can bathe and dress himself, but can no longer drive and needs a cane or walker to get around. His Parkinson’s has progressed to stage 3-4, and he’s lonely and bored.
“There are times he just can’t get up and function. It is heartbreaking to watch my father deteriorate like this. I worry all the time when he is home alone. The stress and worry is unbearable,” Donna says.
When Donna and her husband are at work, a professional in-home caregiver assists Ed part time. The cost of a full-time caregiver is out of reach for the family, and they don’t qualify for Medicaid. “I was at my wit’s end finding help, and thankfully, did get some respite care. What a godsend!” Donna says.
Donna has been at her job for 18 years and feels lucky to have 20 vacation days annually. “I use most of them to take my father to his doctor appointments or stay home if the caregiver can’t make it. Everyone at work knows my situation, some more than others, and the president of the company is very understanding. I don’t know where I’d be without her understanding,” Donna says. "My boss and the company president understand that I will do anything to make sure my work is all taken care of, and they understand the pressure I'm under dealing with my father's situation. I am very lucky to have an employer that cares."
Like many family caregivers, Donna is sharing her story to help others in their caregiving journey and gain tips from others too. “I like to tell as many people as I can because you never know who you may start a conversation with and learn from or give them some insight for their own life.” She’s also receiving support on the website Caring.com, which she can visit anytime, day or night to get senior care information or chat with other family caregivers like her.