Key Takeaways:

  • Nancy, an experienced caregiver shares the importance of staying grounded in the present moment by focusing on today to create a positive environment for both the caregiver and the person receiving care.
  • Caregivers should remain vigilant to signs of burnout and ensure they seek rejuvenation physically and mentally, including through health check-ups, exercise, and personal hobbies.
  • Road Scholar's Caregiver Grant provides caregivers a respite from the rigorous demands of their role and helps them rediscover themselves through enriching experiences.

here's a saying that resonates with many on their caregiving journey: "To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors." However, caregiving is not only fulfilling but also one of the most challenging responsibilities a person can take on, often without any prior training or preparation.

Nancy Hardaway knows this all too well. She was a caregiver for her husband for more than 11 years when he was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy — a rare, progressive, terminal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. She also helped care for her aging mother and disabled sister. Through all the ups and downs, Nancy gathered helpful tips and learned valuable lessons. 

In this article, discover valuable caregiver tips from Nancy. Also, find out about the Road Scholar Caregiver Grant that helped provide Nancy with some relief in her journey - which you can also apply for! 

Pearls of Wisdom from Nancy, an Experienced Caregiver

1. Stay Grounded in the Present

A key component of caregiving, especially when dealing with progressive illnesses, is staying rooted in the present. Dwell neither in the past, lamenting times gone by, nor in a fearful future. It requires an active effort to center oneself in the current day and find joy within it. By focusing on today, caregivers can find small, everyday moments to cherish and create a positive environment not only for their loved ones but for themselves as well.

2. Embrace the Reality of Caregiving

While no caregiver wishes to view their family member as a "burden," it's essential to acknowledge the tremendous responsibility that comes with caregiving. Recognizing it for what it is—both a duty and a significant undertaking—can empower caregivers to understand their feelings of exhaustion and seek the necessary support. It's a journey that demands resilience, strength, and an extraordinary amount of commitment. 

3. Be Alert to Signs of Burnout

Being constantly on the frontline, battling symptoms, navigating the healthcare system, or providing emotional support, can understandably lead to caregiver burnout. This exhaustion affects one's mental health and can also diminish the quality of care provided. To combat this, seek ways to rejuvenate both physically and mentally, whether through regular health check-ups, exercise, or engaging in personal hobbies. 

4. Embrace Vulnerability and Accept Help

There's an innate strength in admitting when you're overwhelmed and need help. Sharing your struggles and challenges openly often paves the way for assistance from friends, family, and your community. Accepting help in the form of meals, companionship, or assistance with household chores not only eases your burden but also allows your loved ones to join you in the caregiving journey. In doing so, you allow them the privilege of contributing and sharing in the responsibility.

5. Expand Your "Life-Space"

Over time, the world of a caregiver can feel increasingly constricted, with the sphere of activities and interactions steadily shrinking. To combat this, actively seek ways to broaden your "life space." Simple adaptations, like short trips or inviting friends for a brief visit, can make a world of difference. Road Scholar programs, for instance, offer unique opportunities for caregivers to travel and rejuvenate, ensuring they have a chance to expand their horizons and rediscover themselves.

How Road Scholar Grants Bring Relief to Caregivers:

Road Scholar, the world’s largest and most innovative not-for-profit creator of experiential learning opportunities for adults, understands the tremendous responsibility shouldered by family caregivers and offers a compassionate escape. Their Caregiver Grants offer financial assistance to individuals caring for ill or disabled loved ones who may face financial challenges that might otherwise prevent them from participating in a Road Scholar program. This grant provides caregivers with the opportunity to embark on a rejuvenating learning adventure. From hiking expeditions and photography journeys to birdwatching sessions, there's a learning adventure for everyone! Apply for a Road Scholar Caregiver Grant today.

Who Qualifies for a Grant? 

  • Primary unpaid caregivers for ill or disabled family members (spouse, parent, adult child, partner, or sibling). Loved ones may be receiving home care, hospice, nursing services, or care in various care facilities.
  • Those who were the primary caregiver for a loved one they lost within the last two years.
  • United States residents aged 50 or older.
  • Individuals who haven't participated in a Road Scholar program in the last two years.

What’s Included?

The Caregiver Grant is financial assistance of up to $1,500 to be used towards the cost of any Road Scholar program in the United States or Canada, priced at no more than $2,000. The programs include lodging, most meals, field trips, and program-related transportation. Caregivers are responsible for their transportation costs to and from the program location and are asked to pay the deposit to ensure their spot in their desired program. If there are additional material costs or expenses, those are the responsibility of the grant recipient.

Whether you're looking to venture solo or with companions, the warmth and camaraderie of the Road Scholar community promises a refreshing respite.

What’s Involved?

The Caregiver Grant is a simple four-page application that includes sharing some personal information, information on caregiving expenses, and a personal statement. 

It is recommended that applications be submitted three months before the intended trip. The review team requires a minimum of 4-6 weeks to review an application for a particular program. 

Upon completion of the rejuvenating adventure, grant recipients are asked to complete an evaluation form, write a thank-you letter to the funder(s) of the grant, and post an online review with photos and a blog. 

How Can You Find Out More?

For more information on the grants and the application process, delve deeper into Road Scholar’s Caregiver Grants and find out how you can make the most of this program.

Nov 3, 2023

Classes by:

Megan Fox

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