Never give up on yourself.
What is one piece of advice you would offer to other military and veteran caregivers?
Treat each day like it’s your last with your care recipient. Go into the day with love, so when the tough times come, you have a cushion to fall back on.
How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? What sacrifices have you had to make?
That my daily decisions revolve around my Dad. I am constantly worried about his health and well-being. At one time I was active in basketball and volleyball, but don’t participate for fear of getting seriously injured and no longer being able to take care of my Dad.
What are you most excited to do as a Dole Caregiver Fellow?
To help raise awareness of how hard it is to be a caregiver. Also, to share our story to help others cope with being a caregiver to a Veteran and know they’re not alone.
When Chris’s father James, a Vietnam veteran, worked to get Chris’s mother, brother, and himself to the United States from the Philippines, he signed an agreement with the Air Force that he would take care of his wife and children when arriving home. Chris is now doing the same for James as his caregiver.
Chris moved his parents into his home and began caring for his dad in 2015 after he suffered a stroke, in addition to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dementia, and incontinence. Prior to becoming a caregiver, Chris worked hard to give back to his community, especially by helping local youth, as a police officer for more than 21 years. While he continues to volunteer when he can, Chris had to leave work when his father became so depressed, he wasn’t getting out of bed.
Daily, Chris helps James get ready for the day by brushing his teeth and managing his medications. On the days James does not want to get out of bed or get properly groomed and cleaned, Chris works to find ways to get him motivated and encourage him, including going to Dunkin Donuts for coffee after breakfast or taking him to the park for a walk. Chris is very consistent about monitoring his father’s incontinence issues throughout the day because James’s cognitive issues occasionally impact his ability to communicate his needs. Chris is vigilant to make sure infections do not occur.
He hopes to be able to find solutions for caregivers needing access to health and fitness programs to continue taking care of themselves. Chris is also passionate about connecting with male caregivers to encourage more to self-identify as caregivers.