Genoveva (“Gigi”) Garcia, a 91-year-old movie buff who once was a would-be seamstress to the stars, probably likes the idea that the final reel in her life has a surprising twist: Her granddaughter, Jennifer, is not just dedicating herself to Gigi’s care but is sharing her riches-to-rags-to-riches story with others on CarePages.com, a community of millions of caregivers, patients and their families and friends.
CHICAGO (Business Wire EON) November 3, 2008 -- "As a single 32-year-old, I never expected to spend this part of my life deciphering medical bills, tracking down lost prescriptions, and scheduling doctor appointments every week," said Jennifer Rincon, who lives next door to her "Grandma Gene" in Visalia, Calif. "But, as I grow closer to my Grandma, the rewards and lessons learned are far more valuable than any paycheck."
Jennifer is among the nearly 60 million caregivers in this country who make countless sacrifices to tend to the health needs of those they love. Like Jennifer, many never expected to have such responsibilities, but somehow manage to take them on while juggling careers, personal relationships, housework and the needs of their children and spouses.
"These amazing individuals deserve to be honored and celebrated during National Family Caregivers Month for all they have given to others," said Sharon Langshur, co-founder of CarePages.com. Sharon founded the company with her husband Eric following their own experiences as caregivers for their newborn son Matthew, who had a congenital heart defect.
Jennifer embodies this kind of selfless compassion. She handles most of day-to-day caregiving activities for Gigi, who suffers from a compression fracture, hearing loss, and several eye diseases but still has a sound mind and sharp memory. These duties include cooking meals, going to doctors' appointments, completing paperwork and keeping family and friends informed of her grandma's health, through phone calls and updates at CarePages.com.
She's also a historian of sorts. On Gigi's CarePages.com site, "GigiRincon," Jennifer shares Gigi's accounts and recollections of her memorable life. She grew up in an affluent family in Los Angeles and was an expert seamstress by the age of 17. She was soon working at an elite designer dress shop and hoped to design costumes for the stars of the movies she loved. Her plans (and life) changed when she got married at 21. After years of poverty, Gigi, now separated from her husband and raising three children, put herself through nursing school while sewing at night to keep a roof over their heads. Today, she's still a big film fan and spends many evenings watching them with Jennifer.
A recent visitor to Gigi's page wrote, "Gigi's love for her husband and children kept her from her dream, but what rewards she is truly witnessing as she sees her children, her children's children, and their children growing and being a part of her daily life. She is truly blessed. Thank you for sharing your stories of your family with me."
Here is some practical advice from Langshur on how to be an effective caregiver without losing your sanity:
3.Reach out for help – You can't do it all on your own. Create a group of willing helpers – or pay for in-home care – to assist with driving, cooking and the many special needs of your loved one.
CarePages is an online community of millions of people coming together to share the challenges, hopes and triumphs of anyone facing a life-changing health event. Through personalized websites, members can relate their stories, post photos and update friends and family instantly. In turn, people who care send messages of love and encouragement. CarePages.com also offers a variety of resources and support tools for living a more compassionate life. CarePages has a simple, singular mission: to ensure that no one faces a health challenge alone. For more information, please visit CarePages.com.
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