Family Caregiver of the Year Award Nominee: Susie Morrell

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Family Caregiver of the Year Award Nominee: Susie Morrell

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Nominated by: Elizabeth Miller

Tell us about the nominee's caregiving story.
My sister, Susie, assumed primary caregiving responsibilities for our mom in April 2016. Assisted Living was not a fit for my mom and our family felt like we were running out of options. My sister was a homemaker for many years and had recently been divorced. She wanted to try and care for mom. What 'sold' us on this option is that she said she needed mom as much as mom needed her.

Mom moved into Susie's home with her teenagers who still lived at home. Susie had a huge house to take care of as well. Eventually, Susie sold that house (try making a house look great while having mom's equipment throughout the house) and they moved to the family lake home several states away in Northern Michigan.

My sister has rolled up her sleeves to streamline mom's medications and care and to save our family money. From time to time, my sister has also had my adult developmentally disabled brother living with her. She knows my mom's passion for food and tries to make Mom smile with homemade meals.

Mom's chronic conditions have progressed over the years where now she is bedridden and depressed. My sister is relentless in trying to keep their spirits up. My sister is my hero.

How does the nominee complement his or her caregiving responsibilities with their own needs and interests?
My sister is a professional oil painter. Finding time to paint is not easy with caring for mom full-time. She hires professional caregivers to come to the house to care for mom. She also tries to keep her art supplies readily accessible so she can paint if an opportunity pops up.

Susie is also great about taking walks outside to get a break from caregiving. Recently, she started using mom and dad's old exercise bike since the weather has been quite chilly in Northern Michigan.

Tell us about the nominee's problem-solving techniques.
Susie is an amazing organizer. When I was mom's primary caregiver, I also had a full-time job, so Mom and I just kind of survived in the process with her appointments and paperwork.

Susie could teach Marie Kondo a thing or two about paperwork organization. She developed health and finance binders for Mom's paperwork and also did the same for our brother Tom who is developmentally disabled.

Susie has also been dating! She shared about this in a panel discussion during NCC18.

How does the nominee use online resources or community services?
Susie follows many of the friends she has made at previous National Caregiving Conferences and she listens to caregiving-related podcasts.

We also have a sister video chat through an app called Marco Polo that keeps us all connected and provides an outlet.

How does the nominee remain involved in his or her community (including online)?
My sister has been visiting local churches to see which is a fit for her. She has recently found one that feels like home and she has been attending a woman's bible study group.

She has also displayed her artwork in the local gallery. Her paintings are a hit since many of them are scenery pictures from the local area.

Susie's art blog: https://susiemorrell.blogspot.com/




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