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Rethinking the role of a caregiver

For many of us, our moms were there when we needed them the most. Now as they grow older, the roles are becoming reversed. (WHAM photo)

65 million adults in the U.S are helping their parents in some way every day. It’s hard, but it’s just as hard to be the parent being helped by their child.

“Imagine what it’s like if you’ve never been cared for, to now be in that vulnerable position, “says Leanne Rorick of Lifespan.

Peter Owens found his mother on the floor of her home after she’d been there for 24 hours. “I helped her into the bathroom, cleaning her up. That was eye-opening. You never expect to be doing those things for your parents. She has no recollection," he said.

Wilda Owen, who is 90, says simply, “I couldn’t do it without him."

It was a moment Peter will never forget - a turning point that put him among the 65 million Americans caring for a parent.

It can be a full-time job, physically and emotionally stressful.

Caregiver burnout is very real. Owen says it got easier when he asked co-workers at Lifespan for help and found a place that met all this mother’s needs.

“We used to talk about the 'role reversal,'" says Rorick, “Now we think of it as a partnership. No matter who we are giving care to, we are partners."

This time for Peter Owen is less a burden and more of an opportunity. “I’m learning more history, more about her childhood, where she grew up and I recorded it all," he said.

It’s a closeness forged by caring and mutual respect.

“We couldn’t be closer under the circumstances," says Wilda Owen.

For more information on care giving, contact Lifespan at 244-8400.

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