A growing number of East Texans are becoming caregivers - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Experts say a growing number of East Texans are becoming caregivers

Medical Director of the Burke Center Alzheimer's and Memory Clinic Robert Carroll Medical Director of the Burke Center Alzheimer's and Memory Clinic Robert Carroll
Gail McClelland Gail McClelland

By Holley Nees - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – For many it's a full-time job, caring for a friend or family member in poor health.  Experts say being a caregiver is a stressful and difficult task that an increasing number of people have taken on.

Gail McClelland has been caring for her mom since she had her first stroke in 2006.

"It's very difficult for me because my mom was very independent, and she still is independent, so it was hard for me to see that person," said McClelland.

Experts say McClelland is part of a growing number of people charged with caring for those that are ill.

"That's the fastest growing population is the over 65 group," said Medical Director of the Burke Center Alzheimer's and Memory Clinic Robert Carroll.  "We're going to see more chronic illnesses, more cancers, more Alzheimer's, and more dementia in general."

Carroll said caregivers themselves are getting older and many, including him, are in what he calls the "sandwich" generation. 

"You've got kids that are grown that are going through divorces, raising kids, financial issues that you're helping with and you've got a mother who's 85 or 90 years old," explained Carroll.

McClelland said it helps knowing other people are in her same boat.

"When you do start out, you do feel kind of isolated," said McClelland.

While caring for her mother is a big task, she said it's one she doesn't take lightly.

"I always tell my girls, you will never regret the decision that we make to take care of mother, or they call her Nana," she said.

It's a long-term process that more East Texans are becoming a part of.

Carroll said it's easy for caregivers to get stressed, so it's important to take some time off.  He said you should also become educated about the illness you are caring for.

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