Caring for the caregiver in Eagle County
July 10, 2010
VAIL, Colorado – At 42, Susan Farrow was a strong, independent and successful head of the promotion department at Lever Brothers in New York. She was also the divorced, single mother of two teenage daughters.
She had been battling a rare form of cancer for more than four years that had now spread to her spine. Farrow told very few people of her battle with cancer, but now facing possible paralysis, she was forced to reveal her illness and ask for help.
Sheila Warnock was Farrow’s best friend and only confidante. She had been at her side through all the doctor appointments, treatments and hospital stays. Warnock was also the sole caregiver of her seriously ill mother, as well as a freelance art director struggling to keep her clientele.
Warnock had recently put her mother in a nursing home because she could not provide the necessary care she now needed. Exhausted, and struggling with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, she nearly despaired at the enormity of Farrow’s needs.
Sukie Miller was Farrow’s psychotherapist who suggested that she create a plan for her own care and make a list of friends and neighbors to invite to a meeting to discuss how they could help. With much difficulty, Farrow called 18 friends and finally admitted to them that she was ill. Twelve showed up for the meeting.
With Miller’s help, the women developed a plan detailing specific tasks and assignments to help care for Farrow. This group of friends named themselves “The Funny Family,” caring for Farrow for three years until she died. Later the group helped form funny families for others who needed care.
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A short time later, two members of the group, Warnock and Cappy Cappossela, wrote a step-by-step guide book about the system they developed for forming a caregiver team. Since 1995, “Share the Care: How to Organize a Group to Care for Someone Who Is Seriously Ill,” has inspired caregiver groups in at least 40 states and many countries around the world.
Caregivers need help now more than ever. In rural resort regions like Eagle County – with extended families far away, families splintered by divorce, higher rates of single adults and wage earners working multiple jobs – caregivers are in desperate need for relief.
Where medical, social and government resources are scarce or non-existent, as in our area, members of our communities can support each other without overburdening any one individual.
The Share the Care model can help regardless of the situation – for short term rehabilitation, long term disability, terminal illness or the debilitating affects of aging.
Caring for the Caregiver through the Share the Care model is an idea whose time is right for our community. The Eagle County Caregiver Support Group will explore Caring for the Caregiver through Share the Care to assist our overburdened caregivers in the upcoming months.
The Eagle County Caregiver Support Group meets on the second Tuesday of every month in Avon and the fourth Tuesday in Eagle. The July 13 meeting will be from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Avon Library. The group will discuss their list of 100-plus ways to support caregivers. The July 27 meeting will be at Yeti’s in Eagle from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. All caregivers are welcome.
For more information about the Caregiver Support Group or to RSVP, Call Pat Nolan at 970-471-9245 or Grant Jackson at 970-328-8836.