The AGE of Central Texas mission is to help caregivers AND their loved ones as they navigate the realities and opportunities of aging and caregiving. This means that caregivers are given support, education, resources, a shoulder to cry on, and more from the staff at the AGE Thrive Social & Wellness Centers.

An example of a hardworking and dedicated caregiver is Amanda Gaultney who cares for her 76-year-old mother, Barbara. Barbara has been a member of our Williamson County Thrive Center for three years and is beloved by staff. Married at the young age of 17, Barbara went on to have five children and provided for her household through a wide variety of jobs following the death of her husband.  Barbara worked as a cleaner, a florist, and was a live in caregiver for many years. Barbara takes real joy from helping others and has a passion for all animals – including her beloved bearded dragon, who she would go so far as to sneak into doctor appointments by putting him in her purse.

Unfortunately, Barbara got sick. Her dementia started hindering her judgement and ability to care for herself, so her daughter stepped up to become her full-time caregiver.

Amanda found AGE of Central Texas through an online search after her mother’s heath began to decline. She knew that her mother was no longer independent enough to live in a regular assisted living facility, but wasn’t ready for a nursing home. This led her to AGE.

The AGE Thrive Social & Wellness Centers provide an older adult who is unable to care for themselves independently with a safe place to receive care each day while their caregiver takes a break to work, care for children, or do some much needed self-care.

“I can’t imagine what our life would be like if we hadn’t found AGE,” Amanda said. “This is a place where people really care about her and are patient with her. I know that the staff are looking for things medically that I would be looking for. I know she’s in a place that’s designed for her where she can enjoy herself and be safe.”

AGE staff work with the caregivers to encourage them to take care of themselves and support them as they make incredibly hard decisions. It’s easy for a caregiver to be consumed by their duties and to lose their original role as a daughter or spouse.

“Unless we are in a situation when she isn’t depending on me then I don’t feel like her daughter,” Amanda said.  “When she’s in a place I can trust, I feel like I’m off-duty. I hug her more, kiss her more, and ask her more questions. I don’t think our relationship would have survived without AGE.”

The caregiving journey, similar to most, has not always been easy. Amanda said that one of the toughest decisions she had to make was to re-home her mother’s cherished pets as she was no longer able to care for them. Telling your parent that she can’t make all of her own decisions or even shower without notifying a family member, so that she can be assisted if she falls, is not easy for the caregiver or the older adult. The stress that those decisions and the changing dynamics in relationships can be detrimental to caregivers.

“I didn’t realize how confining caregiving would be,” Amanda said. “I can’t just go out to eat or take my 13-year-old daughter to the movies, because someone has to watch mom and – she’s at the point where she doesn’t want to go out anymore. I put myself last, because the more I take care of my mom, the less I take care of me.”

AGE staff don’t prioritize the needs of the older adult over the caregiver. Instead, we work hard to provide the tools and support that the caregiver needs while members of our center receive our specialized care.

“The staff have been so supporting and encouraging,” Amanda said. “It’s so nice to that kind of support and to know that here are people on my team. AGE helped me be a better caregiver and a better daughter.”

You can help caregivers like Amanda get the support and resources they need by donating today! Your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar until August 31, 2019, and will be used to give low-income older adults and caregivers access to our Thrive Social & Wellness Centers. Click here to give!

Categories: Caregiving