Dr. Nicole T. Rochester is a physician expert on health care navigation, patient and family caregiver advocate, speaker, author, blogger, and the CEO of Your GPS Doc, LLC. She is a board-certified physician and Clinical Assistant Professor with over two decades of experience teaching and practicing medicine. She’s also one of our CareCreatives! Read her caregiving story here.
What’s your caregiving story?
My two older sisters and I cared for my late father from 2010-2013. He had high blood pressure, kidney failure (on dialysis), heart disease, diabetes, depression, and vascular dementia. He went from living independently in his home to moving into an assisted living facility. He had multiple hospitalizations and nursing home stays. As the physician in the family, I was primarily responsible for overseeing his healthcare.
What was the hardest part of being a caregiver?
There were so many difficult things, but the hardest for me was the sense that I was not in control. I wanted things to go smoothly for my dad but many times they did not, despite my best efforts.
What did you need the most as a caregiver?
What I needed the most as a caregiver was self-forgiveness. I had a lot of guilt about necessary decisions we had to make and put a lot of pressure on myself, especially when his health continued to decline.
What worried you the most as a caregiver?
I worried the most about my dad’s mental and physical health. When my phone rang in the middle of the night I would hold my breath, afraid that he had a medical complication. He had a hard time dealing with the loss of his independence. It was very difficult for him to accept help from his daughters and he often told us he felt he was a burden. That made us very sad, as we were honored to care for him.
What do you want people to know about caregiving & your caregiving life?
I want people to know that caregiving is extremely difficult. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’ve done a lot of very difficult things. Providing support to family caregivers is important and necessary. In my opinion, our society is much more accommodating to parents of young children than we are to those caring for aging parents and family members. We need our friends and family members to ask how they can help and really mean it. We need our employers to offer flexible schedules and support services.
If you got unexpected time off from caregiving, what would you do & where would you go?
Well, my caregiving days are over (for now), but I would have loved to go to the beach for a weekend, read a good book, and relax.
Learn more about Nicole and the other fantastic female caregiving entrepreneurs who make up the CareCreatives, a platform in its early pilot stages that’s primed for future expansion.