September 5, 2012
GAITHERSBURG, Md. - Two weeks before Aurora Sevilla was set to move with her husband to Asbury Methodist Village, he suffered a massive stroke. This was not his first health crisis; a series of smaller strokes had left him unable to qualify for long-term care insurance.
“We knew if anything major happened to him, Asbury had the means to give him the care he needed,” Sevilla explained. “We had sub-acute rehab facilities, doctors and care management people who would supply my husband with 24-hour care.” When the worst case happened, Sevilla “didn’t have to go crazy” tracking down service providers and trying to navigate the labyrinth of insurance claims, all while providing care for her husband.
Even for people like Sevilla, who has care services built into her new community, the burden takes a toll. And, the trend of spouses who utilize two housing levels – one in independent living and the other in memory support or assisted or skilled nursing – is becoming more common across all of Asbury’s communities.
To meet this need, Asbury is increasing support services for resident caregivers in its continuing care retirement communities, with some groups open to family members or the public.
“Residents told us of the importance of being able to step back from caregiving for a short period of time to gather with others in similar situations,” said Rev. Dr. Martha Brown, director of pastoral care and counseling at Asbury Methodist Village, which offers a monthly Caregivers Support Group for its residents and their families. “This affords the opportunity for receiving encouragement and sharing responses to challenges that are common among the caregivers and their families who may attend the group.”
For residents like Sevilla, the support groups and healthcare expertise at Asbury give her tremendous peace of mind. Further, having help allows her to focus on her husband as a spouse, not a nurse. “My husband and I are closer and more loving,” she says. “He seems to thrive in this environment.”
It is an unfortunate fact, though, that millions of Americans receive none of the support on which Sevilla relies. Although statistics vary widely on the number of informal caregivers in the United States, it is estimated that approximately 30 percent of U.S. adults are providing some kind of assistance to a loved one, with 24 percent of adults providing care for an adult, according to a July 2012 Family Caregivers Online report by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project in collaboration with the California HealthCare Foundation (http://bit.ly/ROS800). Spouses are hit especially hard with stress, burnout and impacts on their own physical health, their finances and on changing dynamics in family relationships. Men, in particular, struggle as roles are reversed, often having to learn new skills such as cooking for a wife who previously did all the cooking.
Asbury Methodist Village is a CARF-CCAC and EAGLE-accredited continuing care retirement community that is part of Asbury, a management organization providing life-enhancing services for older adults. Asbury is ranked by LeadingAge and Ziegler Capital Markets Group’s AZ 100 as the 15th-largest not-for-profit multi-site senior living organization in the country. Asbury Methodist Village is also a member of LifeSpan Network.