Molly Riedel, licensed therapist
Molly Riedel is a nurse psychotherapist who has experience working with both caregivers and clients. Her experience includes working in hospital settings, conducting support groups for various organizations including Life with Cancer and churches, doing home visits, and educational programs. Not only is she a nurse but she has helped take care of her parents and other friends and relatives during their prolonged illnesses. Currently Molly is working at Marymount University as a Nursing clinical instructor and at Stratford University Nursing School as an adjunct faculty member. In addition, she has a private practice working with individuals and couples. Molly’s talk encouraged group participation and discussion of our responses. She began by using the terms carer and caree. After that she asked us for other terms for carer such as helpmate, companion and the term we tend to use, care partner. Although she had never heard the term care partner she thought it described beautifully the relationship between her carer and caree.
She then asked us to define the jobs or functions of a care partner. We started slowly with our list. However, I stopped counting at 20. Our list included such diverse jobs as cook, chauffeur, coach, advocate, researcher, gatekeeper, shopper, gardener, etc.
We next explored what it feels like to be a care giver. In spite of it being overwhelming and full of stress, national studies show that 60% of care partners say the rewards and satisfaction outweigh the negatives. Another startling statistic was that in 2009, 61.6 million people provided unpaid care at an estimated value of over $450 billion.
Although the demands of being a care partner can impact that person’s health, stress seemed to take the largest toll. We worked up a list of what Molly called stressors, and ended with a list of potential solutions to handle stress, ranging from humor, “me time”, and more sleep to recognizing a care partner can’t do it all, all the time, and needs to identify and ask for help from other family members, professionals or friends.
Molly facilitated some insightful and valuable discussions during the meeting and ended her talk on a positive note by asking each one (carer and caree) to write down something they appreciated about their partner and then to tell that person what they wrote.