It’s an astounding number — more than 53 million in the United States act as caregivers for a loved one. While it’s a job that most do without hesitation or resentment, it’s also an exhausting role that can take both an emotional and physical toll on the caregiver themselves.
In support of the many caregivers who are also lifelong learners, Road Scholar created Caregiver Grants. This unique source of financial aid allows caregivers an opportunity to attend a Road Scholar learning adventure and enjoy a time of respite, camaraderie and learning.
The results of this initiative have been profound. Caregivers who have attended Road Scholar programs have had much-needed time to rest, meet peers who have similar interests and travel to places they have always wanted to explore. In short, it has given them time for themselves, and a renewed energy to face their role as caregivers once again.
Road Scholar participant Linda C. recently returned from a learning adventure on Mackinac Island in Michigan, thanks to the help of a Caregiver Grant. The full-time caregiver for her 92-year-old mother who had a series of strokes five years ago, Linda had to retire early and move back to Wisconsin in order to care for her mom. To add to her challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic made everything that more challenging and isolating.
“Caregiving is stressful and isolating even under the best conditions but the past 18 months have been almost more than I could bear,” said Linda. “I barely left the house for nearly six months. I worried constantly about my mother’s health. We put off doctor’s appointments and I worried about her medications, her nutrition, her balance. I worried about my own health and who would take care of Mom if something happened to me. It was a mentally and physically exhausting time. Once we got vaccinated and started to venture out a little, I realized that I needed to recharge – for the both of us.”
With the encouragement of her daughter and a friend, Linda applied for and received a Road Scholar Caregiver Grant. She chose to attend a learning adventure in Mackinac Island as it was within driving distance from home and having tea at the Grand Hotel there had been a dream of hers for years. In addition to experiencing the magic of Mackinac, Linda enjoyed the tutelage of knowledgeable instructors, met fellow travelers who were easy to get along with and enjoyed that each day was educational. Most importantly, she was able to take time for herself.
“I cannot adequately express my gratitude for this experience,” says Linda. “Thank you so much for the opportunity — it has truly been life changing and would not have been possible otherwise.”
Road Scholar Barbara T. from Richmond, Va. looks forward a similar sense of rejuvenation on an upcoming learning adventure in Sedona, Arizona, thanks to the help of a Caregiver Grant. Barbara is a caregiver to her husband Larry who has suffered from dementia and Parkinson’s for the past decade, and who fell and was undergoing rehab for hip surgery when the pandemic struck.
“The pandemic has been completely overwhelming,” says Barbara. “Critical doctor’s appointments were delayed for months and dementia care services were closed for over a year. My daughter couldn’t fly out to help me. We barely left the house for fear of our health and safety.”
With the help of her daughter, Barbara will be able to take some much-needed time for herself as she attends On the Road: Sedona's Red Rock Country and the Grand Canyon.
“I am a retired science teacher, so I am looking forward to learning about the ecology and geology of the canyons,” says Barbara. “I’m so grateful for this opportunity to take a break from our daily challenges and recharge my batteries!”
If you or someone you know would benefit from the rejuvenation that a Road Scholar Caregiver Grant can bring, we invite you to learn more about our Caregiver Grants here. If you would like to support the gifts the Caregiver Grants can bring to the lives of a caregiver, please visit https://secure.qgiv.com/for/cgl
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