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In the News

A caregiver’s balanced life provides for better care

Friday, September 12, 2014

Everything seemed to be happening all at once for Cheri and Barry Krockover. In 2009, Cheri lost her job as a software analyst and tester, and Barry, her husband of 22 years, started to show behavioral changes related to memory loss.

By 2010, Barry, who is now 78, was diagnosed with dementia.Cheri Krockover

“In 2010, I officially felt like my life was over,” said Cheri, who is now 64. “Then I came to the realization, that ‘no, my life is not over. It is just going to be different.’ What I have learned during the last four years is that your love for your spouse continues, but it also is very different… but it is still a powerful force.”

In hindsight, Cheri sees losing her job as a blessing. It allowed Cheri to notice the signs of dementia early and Barry and her to spend the next few years being active together. But outlining a support system, learning about resources, and handling stress ensured Cheri stayed her positive, fun and happy self. More importantly, it helped her remain a great caregiver for her husband.

Early during her caregiving years, Cheri joined a job club where she discovered other unemployed caregivers. Rallying around their commonality, the caregivers created a second support group that let members share resources about caregiving. It also provided an outlet to discuss the common problems they faced and had to overcome.

“We shared ideas on how to cope, and other caregivers can find humor in some of the stresses and issues that arise while providing for a loved one,” Cheri said. Having a connection with people who are going through similar trials and tribulations is almost priceless, she said.

The support group led Cheri to programs such as the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area’s Stress Busting Program for Family Caregivers. The nine-week course helped explain the grief Cheri felt, she said. It also let her accept her role as a caregiver and taught her techniques to manage the pressures of providing for an Alzheimer’s disease or dementia patient.

> Become a Stress Busting Program for Family Caregivers volunteer.
> Discover more about AAACAP.

To further mitigate stresses, Cheri created a resource wheel to organize her support system. Each person or group in the wheel is a different spoke that helps manage a different stress in life such as money, your spirit and caregiving.

Communication plays a key role in using a resource wheel, Cheri said. Telling your friends and associates about their role, lets them know exactly how they can help. It also lets them understand your situation. Some friends can help you relax during daily routine stresses such as shopping. Others, such as fellow caregivers, can make awkward caregiving moments funny, which helps you stay optimistic.
“That is a key to being a healthy caregiver, holding onto that optimism,” Cheri said. “The better my own mental outlook it is, the more able I am to care for him. I was always the fun person in our marriage, and he still needs me to be the fun person.”

Cheri is now a Stress-Busting course master trainer and will be speaking during the Striking a Balance 2014: the 13th annual conference for nonprofessional caregivers. Barry is doing well in a living and caregiving facility. The Krockovers see each other almost every day and still laugh with and love each other.

> Register for Striking a Balance 2014: the 13th annual conference for nonprofessional caregivers.

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