Over the summer, we added Curves of Los Altos to our family of care partners. Since then, Mimi and Tracey have led our Caregivers’ Walks and are hosting a thirty-minute at-home workout on November 2nd. More than just two women who are part of a nationwide franchise of woman-focused gyms, both are also caregivers. Here are their stories.
For the past forty years, I’ve watched my mom help and support my dad throughout his complicated medical history. For years, my brother and I tried to help, offering to drive him to doctor appointments or pick up prescriptions. My parents are proud people who fought to maintain their independence and would not accept help. We honored their wishes, but we both lived nearby so we were available at a moment’s notice if needed.
By 2019, my mother was becoming overwhelmed with caregiving responsibilities, and I began to help my dad manage his medications. (When you’re not feeling well, managing more than twelve prescription medications is a real struggle.) Still, my dad was reluctant to accept my help.
Finally, last May, my dad was in the hospital for ten days before he passed away. My mom and I took turns staying by my dad’s side until my brother arrived. I do not know how I did it: staying up through the night at the hospital. Where did the energy come from? How did I manage the stress of those weeks?
In hindsight, I believe my energy came from having exercised regularly through the pandemic shutdown. I had been exercising on Zoom with my Curves members five to seven times a week, every week for six months. Staying active and healthy gave me the stamina I needed to push through those long days. Along with my faith, I believe exercising also helped me to manage the stress of that time.
We often hear that a brief walk around the block can do wonders for our health and well-being, and it’s true. From my own experience, I encourage you to get up and move – jog in place, take a walk, do an online workout if you can’t get to a gym. You never know when your family might need you, and your strength and fitness will serve you and your family.
My caregiving journey started in 2014 when I quit my job to begin caring for my mother-in-law, Becky, in the home I shared with my husband and my own mother.
Becky had a stroke that affected her left side. Rehab gave her back the ability to get around with a cane. Unfortunately, she often forgot (or flat-out refused) to use her cane which made her a severe fall risk. After her second serious fall, her doctor determined that she needed a higher level of care and supervision and ordered her to into a long-term care facility where she still lives today. I was able to go back to work and – most importantly – Becky is getting the care that she needs.
But my caregiving journey continues. Mom retired in 2016, and I’ve been caring for her, albeit to a lesser extent than I had to care for Becky. She has macular degeneration, so I drive her everywhere. She takes medication that affects her speech, so I am her “translator” for phone calls and doctor appointments. Otherwise, Mom is still very independent and performs all of her ADL’s.
At first, my main focus was to help her get off her carb-heavy diet and eat healthier. When Mom’s doctor ordered her to join a gym, we joined Curves together and it was a game-changer for us both. We were working out consistently, eating healthy, getting stronger, and losing weight.
When Curves had to close due to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place, we still had access to our Curves workouts (live on Zoom and 24-7 virtual classes with My Curves on Demand) so we were able to stay on track. Back in April, I was hired as a Curves Coach. Now Mom has no excuses! Naturally, I expect more changes with Mom coming down the pike. Right now, however, I am so blessed to be able to share this time with her and so proud of all her hard work.
Thanks to Mimi and Tracey for sharing their stories with us. We hope to continue sharing the stories of our care partners, letting you see the faces behind the names.