Caregiver support

When Pam Jones’s father passed away, her mother, Colleen, lost her principal caregiver.

That sent Jones scrambling to find who was going to look after Colleen, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and required constant care.

Jones, of Milton, eventually decided moving in with her mother was the best move.

But she had no idea what she faced.

“It’s very stressful,” she recalled. “You are no longer the child of your parent. You become the caregiver to the parent.”

Jones looked after Colleen 24 hours a day.

She cooked her meals. She bathed her. She cleaned up after her.

Needless to say, her mother’s needs consumed her life.

Occasionally, Jones needed a break.

That’s where Home Instead Senior Care, of Lewisburg, came in.

Home Instead was able to send one of its own caregivers to the home now and then to give Jones a break.

“Many people are caring for family members,” said Joe DeLauter Sr., owner of Home Instead Senior Care. “There are a lot of challenges with that. It develops into stress. It is called caregiver stress. Stress can be the cause of serious health problems.

“One of the helpful things is through our services they can hire us to give them a break. That is sometimes all that is needed. I hire caregivers to go out and help them.”

Home Instead not only can provide full-time or part-time caregivers, but a variety of services as well, including counseling, education and advice for people in need of assistance looking after loved ones.

Due to the growing elderly population, especially in this area, it’s not a problem that is going away, DeLauter noted.

“People are having less and less children, so the pool of caregivers is shrinking,” he said. “With the economy, a lot of people are not near home. They have to make arrangements to come home or give up jobs.”

As Kathi Venios, officer manager at Home Instead Senior Care put it: “It’s okay to be overwhelmed.”

Jones cared for her mother for more than a year before she passed away at age 77 in June.

By the end of the experience, Jones was exhausted.

“Your life is centered around them,” she said.

Her mother suffered from sundowner’s syndrome, which sometimes affects Alzheimer’s or dementia sufferers and is often manifested by mood swings.

Needless to say, Jones often had her work cut out for her.

Jones had a baby monitor put in her mother’s room at night to keep in constant contact.

“I would definitely say being a caregiver was the hardest work I ever did,” said Jones, who gave up her job at Bucknell University to be with her mother.

Jones definitely gained much from the experience, however.

In fact, she now works as a Home Instead caregiver.

Home Instead Senior Care was started in 1994 and has since grown with sites nationwide, including in Lewisburg.

Another site is expected to open in Williamsport at 440 River Ave. later this year.