Forty-eight million Americans
serve as caregivers for friends and family members in need.
always considered myself strong and quite capable of taking care of myself, but
life has a way of swatting our perceptions away. I came to this conclusion when
I was stricken with Covid-19—despite being fully vaccinated— a broken leg that
rendered me unable to walk for two months, and an eye infection that affected
my vision. (No, I never do anything halfway.)
that I rarely thought of caregivers before, but as I stared up from my
bed—broken and sick— at the face of my masked sweetie pie, I was struck by my
utter helplessness. In the beginning, I was too sick to consider how much work
I’d become. Nor did it register that I wasn’t the only person in Ryan’s care.
His prime caretaking responsibility is his 85-year-old mom who is losing her
eyesight and suffers from dementia.
So, Ry was now faced with
two of us. When the Covid started to ease, I jokingly called Ryan Ethan Frome, the title character in the 1911 novel by
American author Edith Wharton. For those who are unfamiliar with the story,
poor Ethan, who has a disabled shrew of a wife, falls in love with a pretty
young woman. Then, with no way out, they decide to commit suicide together,
however the plan goes awry. They both live, but the woman becomes disabled, so
Ethan now has two sickly people to care for.
Ryan, as my caregiver, had to
do everything when I was sick and broken.
to the AARP, “Every day, some 48 million Americans help parents, spouses and
other loved ones with medical care, meals, bathing, dressing, chores and much
more. They do it out of love, not for pay.”
was well enough to notice, I realized the enormous pressure Ryan faced. He had
to feed his mother, monitor her medications, and tend to grocery shopping and
medical appointments, as well as weather her constant confusion and memory
issues. Then he had to come to my house and care for all my needs, as well.
can imagine, caregivers are suffering. “Family caregivers now encompass more
than one in five Americans,” says the research series Caregiving in the US.
“The study also reveals that family caregivers are in worse health
compared to five years ago.” Caregivers spend a whopping 13 days each month “on
tasks such as shopping, food preparation, housekeeping, laundry,
transportation, and giving medication.”
constant demands force caregivers to push their own lives and needs aside,
often causing burnout. Between 40 to 70% of caregivers are said to suffer from
depression, with those attending to patients with cognitive decline being the
most likely to be affected. Also, chronic illnesses like diabetes, arthritis,
high blood pressure, heart disease, and immune system disorders can worsen.
Ryan stepped up and became a
caregiver when I needed him. I will always be grateful.
can caregivers do? First, ask for help, if you’re feeling overwhelmed. There
are agencies all over the country that offer services to caregivers that can
help lighten the load, so check the Internet and your insurance company to see
what’s available. Do the best you can but forgive yourself when days don’t go
as planned. And carve out some time out for yourself.
Tuesday, Ryan goes to lunch with his long-time buddies. The gathering is his
one time of respite during the week when most of his efforts revolve around me
and his mom. He always seems more energized when he returns from these
get-togethers and happily tells me what’s new with the boys.
is National Family Caregivers Month, so I’d like to give a big shoutout to
those who shoulder the responsibilities for others. Caregiving is an
exhausting, often overlooked effort. So, thank you to all the folks who support
those of us in need.
course, I’m especially grateful for Ryan who jumped in with both feet when my
health failed, never getting angry, and doing his best to cheer me up when I
you, Ry. I love you!
Here is a look at one of my thrillers for your reading pleasure.
Ancient ruins, haunted memories, and a ruthless criminal combine with a touch of mystic presence in this taut mystery about a crime we all must address.
Maggie, a National Park Ranger of Native American descent, is back at The Castle—an ancient pueblo carved into a limestone cliff in Arizona’s Verde Valley.
Maggie, who suffers from depression, has been through several traumas: the gang rape she suffered while in the Coast Guard, the sudden death of her ten-year-old son, and a suicide attempt.
One evening, she chases a young Native American boy through the park and gasps as he climbs the face of The Castle cliff and disappears into the pueblo. When searchers find no child, Maggie’s friends believe she’s suffering from depression-induced hallucinations.
Maggie has several men in her life. The baker, newcomer Jim Casey, who always greets her with a warm smile and pink boxes filled with sweet delicacies. Brett Collins, a scuba diver who is doing scientific studies in Montezuma Well, a dangerous cylindrical depression that houses strange creatures found nowhere else on Earth. Dave, an amiable waiter with whom she’s had a one-night stand, and her new boss Glen.
One of these men is a serial rapist and Maggie is his next target. In a thrilling and terrifying denouement, Maggie faces her rapist and conquers her worst fears once and for all.
Available at Amazon and all major vendors.
Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.
When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.