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Who Cares

Caregiver Conversations

Friday, May 9, 2014 | Permalink

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Four in 10 American adults are family caregivers. They provide for the needs of parents, spouses, children with disabilities, and siblings. It’s a labor of love that takes a toll physically, emotionally, and financially. 

Capital Public Radio’s documentary team spent six months exploring the stresses, struggles and blessings of being a family caregiver through The View From Here: Who Cares. In collaboration with the Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center, CapRadio set up a telephone hotline and a website to gather caregiver stories that were published as a community generated blog, Caregivers Speak.  

Want to have a conversation about family caregiving?

The project stories and materials on this webpage provide all you need to host a conversation about family caregiving. Use them to learn from one another’s experience and strengthen community ties. Scroll down for background information on different topics, discussion questions and audio clips. Download the discussion guide for ideas on how to use the materials on this site. Use the downloadable flyers if appropriate. For more information contact jesikah maria ross.



On an airplane, if there is a loss of cabin pressure an oxygen mask descends in front of you. The first rule is to put on your own oxygen mask before you assist anyone else. It’s the same here on the ground. It’s only after we first help ourselves that we can effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important—and one of the most often forgotten—things you can do as a caregiver. When your needs are taken care of, the person you care for will benefit too.


Discussion Questions

  • Laurel is worried about her dad more than her mom (who has Dementia). Have you talked to your family about the help you need?

  • Rick mentions his health concerns. When was the last time you saw the doctor?

  • When you hear Loretta’s story, do you think she is taking care of herself?

  • Loretta is learning how to accept help from others. What about each one of you; how is your progress in learning this valuable task?

  • Does your family know how they can help you?

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Dementia is the loss of cognitive functioning—thinking, remembering, and reasoning—and behavioral abilities, to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities. In the US, there are approximately 7.7 million NEW cases of Dementia each year. There are more than 100 different types of Dementia, although Alzheimer’s disease and Vascular Dementia are the two most common forms. Although each disorder has its own unique features, family members and caregivers often share common problems, situations, and strategies.


Discussion Questions

  • How do you relate to Rick’s description of every day being the same?

  • How do you deal with your own “Groundhog Days”?

  • How do you react when the person you care for tells you made-up stories that are real to them? 

  • Have you ever been in a situation where therapuetic fibbing -- a method used to relieve anxiety in Dementia patients -- may have been helpful? If so, what happened?

  • What are the most important discoveries you’ve had as a caregiver?

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Caregiving can be isolating.  Many caregivers provide care 24-7, leaving little time for their social network, hobbies or self-care.  Moreover, caregivers who are caring for someone who has a cognitive impairment may not have meaningful conversations with the person they are caring for, further compounding the issue.  Support groups are available, although attendance may be impossible for those who are providing care around the clock.  As a result, caregivers may feel a sense of isolation, which makes them a population at risk.


Discussion Questions

  • How and when did you become a caregiver?

  • What have you learned about yourself through being a caregiver?

  • How do you relate to these stories?

  • Caregiver isolation is a huge problem and can be a contributing factor in caregiver depression. How do you manage the isolation? What tips do you have for others?

  • What can you do to prevent the isolation of caregiving?

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