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Caregiver Profiles

Viola Breunig - Caregiver ProfileViola Breunig,
Human Resources Manager
St. Louis Business Journal

For the past five years, Viola Breunig has served as a caregiver for her mother who turned 80 in December and now suffers from dementia. Over the past several months, Viola has watched her mother’s condition continue to worsen, and she has seen her list of caregiver duties grow.

Viola’s mother continues to live in her own home and cares for her own physical needs, but with her dementia progressing, Viola and her siblings are now forced to keep a watchful eye on her to ensure her safety. Initially, Viola’s caregiver duties included taking her mother to doctor appointments and checking on her daily, with her siblings pitching in to help with house and yard work. But in recent months, Viola has assumed responsibility for her mother’s finances and many other duties that her mother can no longer handle due to her declining mental state.

As a Business Journal employee, Viola learned that the Senior Solutions Caring Workplace® program was available through her worksite. She has since utilized the program to gain access to important medical resources for her mother and has also taken advantage of the program’s counseling services.

“Employees can expel a lot of time and energy trying to find much needed help on their own,” said Viola. “For individuals like myself who are dealing with issues related to caring for an aging parent, the Caring Workplace® is a great benefit.  It not only saves time, but also helps me to know that I’m not alone and that many people are dealing with many of the same challenges, which helps me put my own situation in perspective.”

Today, Viola and her siblings are exploring assisted living options for their mother. As they do, Viola continues to take advantage of the services available through the Caring Workplace® and encourages others to do the same.

“The most important thing to remember while you’re caring for someone else is to take care of yourself,” said Viola. “As a caregiver, it’s great to know that Senior Solutions is there if I need them, and I highly recommend anyone in the same position to reach out to them for help.”

Dr. Linda Chapman
Vice President of Academic Affairs, Lewis & Clark Community College

Until two years ago, 59-year-old Linda Chapman had no idea she’d soon be serving as a long-distance caregiver. That was until a conversation with her siblings changed everything.

After speaking with her family members, Linda learned that her 83-year-old mother was becoming increasingly forgetful and was experiencing poor balance and intermittent confusion. Knowing that their mother needed help, but unsure where or how to find it, Linda’s siblings turned to her for advice.

Living more than 1,000 miles away from her parents and siblings, who reside in Massachusetts, Linda was tasked with helping her family locate geriatric specialists on the East Coast who could evaluate her mother. Rather than attempting to tackle this research on her own, Linda decided to take advantage of the resource services offered by the Senior Solutions Caring Workplace® program.

“I remembered that the Caring Workplace® was a benefit offered by our worksite, and immediately contacted (eldercare specialist) Heather O’Brien,” said Linda. “She suggested that it would be good to have a specialist look at my mother’s medical history to get a holistic view of what might be going on. Within days, she supplied me with a list of resources located near my mother’s hometown.”

Linda’s mother continues to live independently with assistance from her husband and children. Linda notes that she and her siblings continue to utilize the information provided by Heather O’Brien and the Senior Solutions Caring Workplace® as they consult about their mother’s condition and work together to provide care.

“Heather’s knowledge, compassion, humor and support have helped me to intervene appropriately and helpfully in my parent’s lives, and I’m grateful to her and for all the help I’ve received from the Caring Workplace® program.

Sheila Swisher - Caregiver ProfileSheila Swisher,
Human Resources Director,
DRS Technologies

With signs of dementia beginning to appear in her 86-year-old mother-in-law, Sheila Swisher has recently assumed part-time duties as a long-distance caregiver. Through most of her golden years, Sheila’s mother-in-law has remained independent and active, but things began to change a year ago in the wake of her son’s death, as family members began to notice signs which signaled the onset of dementia.

Residing in a small town outside Macomb, Ill., Sheila’s mother-in-law now receives direct care from her daughter who lives nearby. But, with her condition continuing to worsen, it quickly became clear to Sheila’s sister-in-law that a professional medical evaluation was needed for her mom. Not knowing where else to turn, she looked to Sheila for advice, and Sheila turned to the Senior Solutions Caring Workplace® program.

As a St. Louis resident, Sheila was unfamiliar with the senior care services available in the Macomb area and knew a great deal of research would be needed in order to find the right health professionals to help her mother-in-law. Rather than attempting to tackle this extensive research project on her own, Sheila decided to contact a care manager from the Senior Solutions Caring Workplace® program. With the care manager’s help, Sheila was able to locate a health care facility in Galesburg, Ill. to evaluate her mother-in-law.

“For a minimal cost, the Caring Workplace® program is a great benefit that DRS Technologies offers to its employees,” said Sheila. “In these tough economic times, the company has considered cutting the program, but it remains because the many benefits it provides far outweigh the costs.”

Sheila notes that more and more of her co-workers are taking on caregiving duties, making the program increasingly popular at her worksite.

“With so many baby boomers now becoming caregivers, it’s important to remember that we don’t have to go at it alone,” said Sheila. “It’s okay to reach out for help, whether it’s from a resource like the Senior Solutions Caring Workplace® program, or from friends, doctors, church or a support group. We don’t have to take care of everything ourselves.