Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

Arts/Entertainment

June 5, 2014

Care for the caregiver

Workshop aims to help 'sandwich generation' cope

Her 93-year-old widowed mother needs her pills and morning eye drops while her 19-month-old grandson is squirming for a snack.

Trish Simpson’s daughter is also living in her home on Quail Run to save money to buy a house.

At 62 years old, Simpson never thought this stage of her life would be so hectic. The retired Wilmington school teacher who now works part-time for that district had looked forward to some time for herself spent enjoying her favorite things.

But now she can’t even remember what it was she liked to do as her caregiver family role has evolved into a full-time responsibility.

Simpson is finding herself sandwiched between the generations taking care of the young and old in her family.

“I pray a lot ... it’s emotional at times, but I love my family,” said Simpson, who is divorced. “It would be great if there was help for caregivers, someone to talk to, but there isn’t.”

Dr. Suetta Tenney, a mind/body specialist who lives and works in Andover, truly understands the fulfilling, but often frustrating role Simpson holds in her family.

Tenney led that life for many years as her younger sister has Down’s syndrome and she took loving care of her late mother and grandmother as they suffered from serious health problems.

“You have got to take care of yourself first,” said Tenney, an internist who has been practicing for over 30 years and now has an office on Andover Street.

This week, Tenney is introducing an eight-week workshop especially designed for caregivers on Thursday nights at the Center at Punchard (formerly Andover Senior Center).

Participants will learn simple mind-body techniques to assist them in caring for themselves as they care for others. The aim is to help caregivers more effectively handle the challenging demands in their lives, Karen Payne-Taylor, program coordinator at The Center at Punchard/BoomerVenture, said.

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