Meet a Working Family Caregiver: Michelle Kuehn

Denise

Meet a Working Family Caregiver: Michelle Kuehn

Denise
(Editor’s Note: As part of our Hire a Family Caregiver campaign, I’ll introduce you to working family caregivers on a regular basis.)

Michelle.KuehnToday, I'm happy to introduce you to Michelle Kuehn, a licensed professional counselor who cares for her mom. Michelle is part of the "sandwich generation"; she and her husband also raise their two young children.

Michelle's mom moved in with her family in 2008. "It was a struggle to figure out how we all ‘fit’ into this new family dynamic, but God has plans even when we just have dreams," Michelle says. "Being a caregiver can be a joyous experience, but it can also be devastating mentally, emotionally, and physically. While I wouldn’t change this road we are on, nor the sweet time my mother and I spend together, I don’t like this ‘season’ of our life and look forward to the future."

Michelle also teaches in higher education online and at the local community college. She hopes to begin a doctorate program in educational leadership this fall.

My questions and her answers follow.

Caregiving.com: How do you think your caregiving experience has made you more productive?
Michelle: I'm not sure if the caregiving experience is making me stronger or weaker. I am fortunate to work for myself. However, I am in the service industry for health care and if I don't work, I don't make money. Simply put, while I can adjust my schedule to meet the needs required of me at home, I cannot always meet the needs of my patients at work. Losing patients due to reschedules or cancellations will over time affect the long term growth of my business and possibly be a factor in a business decline or closure.

Caregiving.com: What do you enjoy about your job?
Michelle: I enjoy socializing with others, hearing other stories or issues that aren't my own, and feeling as though I am genuinely helping others. I feel most productive at work, while at home the tasks can become so overwhelming that I feel most like a failure. In caregiving, there never seems to be an end point thus making the "ta-da" moment nonexistent.

Caregiving.com: What do you hope to achieve in your career?
Michelle: I would ideally like to move past my caregiving role, for a time, and be able to pursue educational goals in order to procure a position in higher education.

Caregiving.com: What advice would you offer to another working family caregiver?
Michelle: When it's hot, it's hot, and when it's not... it's not. Enjoy the quiet without feeling like you have to be busy. And when it is busy, know that this crisis will pass and the ebb and flow will continue.

Caregiving.com: What suggestions would you offer employers that can help their employees with caregiving responsibilities?
Michelle: Be flexible and generous with time off or lateness to the office. Sometimes the drive into the job may be the only alone time a family caregiver has all day. Understand that the work will get done, but that there is a moment where the person who is caregiving just wants to be separate and apart from the task.

Caregiving.com: Finally, tell us about your caregiving situation.
Michelle: I have been a physical caregiver for my mother many times during the last 20 years. Most recently, because of her diagnosis of cancer, I have been the primary caregiver. I make doctors' appointments, meet with specialists, make treatment arrangements, provide transportation, share financial concerns as well as care for my small children and work. It has been a stressful few months and I am emotionally drained but must continue on as there are no other options. I have extended family and friends, but there have been few situations to pass or delegate primary caregiving tasks to others.

(Tell us your story; share your experiences about your life as a working family caregiver.)

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Barbt22

Hi Nancy, I can relate to the retirement section of your 'vent'. I have about 6 yrs before I can retire and my husband retired at age 55, 14 yrs ago. It's hard to still work at these ages & come home to the drama. I'm tired & I bet you are too. Yep, came home to find his shoe in the refrig one morning. He doesn't remember doing a lot of this stuff & thinks someone else did it to make him look crazy. One time, my son in law & I watched him walk in the bathroom to use the toilet with an assault rife. Needless to say we took the guns away. Feel free to vent! We're here for you. Believe me I vent a lot here. Hang in there!