Being an essential caregiver ‘makes you feel like you’re a partner’

Karen Zidenberg says being with her mother at Maplewood has benefited them both

As an essential caregiver, Karen Zidenberg is at Maplewood with her mother, a resident of the Brighton, Ont. long-term care home, twice a week, spending one-to-one time with her mom and assisting with some of her care needs.

This has had a positive impact on Karen’s mother as well as Karen, who, like other family members, could not be inside the home during much of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It has been wonderful; it makes you feel like you’re a partner,” Karen says of being an essential caregiver.

Karen became an essential caregiver for her mother when she became eligible about a month ago.

Karen says she and her mother benefit from being able to see each other regularly. The essential caregiver role, she adds, is unique.

“What the essential caregiver role does is it gives recognition and it gives credence to people who can do as much as they can and be as active with their care as if they were in their own home,” Karen says.

Asked what she has learned about Maplewood throughout the pandemic, Karen says the most important thing has been the reinforcement of knowing her mother is well cared for.

“It has taught me that I don’t have to be there, that I can take care of myself and not burn myself out, and it taught me that things are going to be OK,” she says.

“As an essential caregiver, I can balance my life without worrying because I am not there.”

Karen also says the entire Maplewood team does an outstanding job caring for her mother.

“I am so thankful for everyone at Maplewood; I am so grateful and so thankful for each and every team member because I truly appreciate them,” she says.

Karen adds she has a “great relationship” with Maplewood.

“I will tell you that, hands down, I love the team, and I do what I can to show that appreciation the best that I can because I really think people (working in long-term care homes) are not appreciated enough for what they’re going through and how they have endured,” she says.

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