Most of us will face a difficult challenge at some point in our lives. We get upset over problems at home and at work. Financial crises keep us awake at night. Broken relationships pierce our hearts. Our parents get sick and die, and our own health starts to deteriorate as we age. If we’re lucky, we find ways to adapt, adjust and work through most of our problems.
One challenge most of us don’t have to face is raising a child with a severe disability. No one is prepared for that, and there are no easy fixes. When you have a baby with Down’s Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy, autism, deafness or blindness, your life turns in a much different direction from people who have healthy children.
Parenthood is forever, regardless of your baby’s health. But when you become the parent of a child with a severe disability, meeting their needs, providing for their care, and helping them create a life that is meaningful, rewarding, and happy, is extraordinarily difficult.
Join us as we visit with Tim Rocak, CEO of Garten Services, a not-for-profit corporation that provides training and employment to over 500 people with disabilities in Salem, Oregon and the surrounding area. With over 25 years’ experience in the not-for-profit field, Tim provides valuable tips on finding resources, making choices about living arrangements, and helping people with disabilities live their lives with a sense of pride, independence and connectedness.
We also talk with Peggy Graul, a master’s level nurse with nearly four decades experience in nursing education. Peggy is currently the Coordinator for Continuing Education for the University of Southern Indiana College of Nursing and Health Professions in Evansville, Indiana. She is also the mother of two children with severe disabilities.
Peggy and her husband Ron had a healthy and thriving two-year-old when she gave birth to twins who were born 2 ½ months prematurely. Both babies were born with severe spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy.
Peggy talks about her personal journey, the difficulty of caring for the babies at home, and the heartbreak she and her husband experienced when they realized they could not meet all of the children’s needs in their own home. Although it was excruciatingly difficult, Peggy and Ron decided it would be best for Megan and Andrew to live in a residential care facility. For the last 30 years the twins have received excellent care at the Wendell Foster Campus in Owensboro, KY.
You will be impressed with Peggy’s honesty and encouraged to know that it is possible to have children with disabilities and still have a productive, fulfilling life outside of your caregiving role.
If would like to watch the funny video that inspired Peggy to share her own story about caregiver fatigue watch: Claudia Robs a Bank. This story is based on a plan a dear, sweet elderly woman shared with Elaine at a caregiving conference in Milwaukee, WI last fall. If you are a caregiver, and you can identify with Claudia and Peggy, we hope you’ll continue to come back week after week as we visit with other people who will share insights on how to care for individuals who can no longer care for themselves.