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The Joys and Challenges of Caregiving: A Personal Perspective

AARP Caregiving Expert Amy Goyer says family caregivers are often silent heroes. (AARP)
AARP Caregiving Expert Amy Goyer says family caregivers are often silent heroes. (AARP)
November 14, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. -- There are more than 62,000 unpaid caregivers in North Dakota, whose invaluable contributions allow older relatives to age in place in their homes. A national expert is in the state this week to discuss the joys and challenges of this important role.

AARP Caregiving Expert Amy Goyer cared for both her mother and father, and she explained it's a stressful job that takes a toll on one's own health and wellness. But, she said, "filling your own tank," is crucial when you start to feel like you're running on empty.

"You're more frustrated, your temper is pretty short, you're not sleeping well, your finances are a mess, health problems creep up, those are all red flags,” Goyer said. “And you need to do the best that you can to kind of fill your own tank, so you can balance things out a little bit. "

Goyer will share her practical advice about finding a life balance while serving as a caregiver at AARP North Dakota's "Lunch and Learn" get-togethers Wednesday in Bismarck, and Thursday in Fargo.

Goyer said supports like paid sick days, family leave and respite care can help reduce the stress of caregiving. And in North Dakota, AARP is working on the CARE Act, legislation that would provide training for caregivers when a loved one is discharged from a medical facility.

Goyer said most people don't automatically know how to dress wounds, administer medications or operate a feeding tube - and with her own dad, neither did she.

"I had about five minutes of training in the hospital when we left to take him home, and take care of him with his feeding tube,” she recalled. “We ended up back in the hospital three times because it got clogged. So, we know that caregivers need this training and education. "

She also encourages family and friends to reach out, because caregivers often don't want to ask for help.

"Often, family caregivers are silent heroes; they don't get a lot of thanks for what they do,” Gayer said. “So do something nice for a family caregiver - give them a break, send them a nice card and 'thank you' note, help them take care of their loved ones, make a meal. That goes a really long way."

November is National Family Caregivers Month. More information can be found at

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - ND