Health is something that many people take for granted, especially young people. Most don’t realize that their health or the health of their loved ones could drastically decline at any moment without notice.
Typically in these situations the ailing loved one requires around the clock care which forces someone in the family to become the designated caregiver. Louisville author and scholar Janice Baldon-Gutter found herself in this very situation when her parents became terminally ill years ago.
After experiencing sudden illness her mother was unable to care for herself so Baldon-Gutter had no choice but to put her life on hold and become her caregiver. A number of years later, while still caring for her mother, her father became bedridden due to lung cancer complications and moved into her home as well.
“With my mom it was 15 years of caregiving. With my dad it was a shorter period of time. At one point I cared for them both at the same time…They both died within two months of each other.” – Janice Baldon-Gutter
Considering that the lives of most people are consumed with work, family and responsibilities; the tedious task of caregiving is something that many family members aren’t willing to take on.
“It’s very rare someone else will step up in the family and say. ‘Oh it’s my turn.’…Normally when you are it, you are on your own.” – Janice Baldon-Gutter
Throughout the process of caring for her parents, Baldon-Gutter lost friends, became estranged from several family members, experienced pressure from her employer and at times felt as though the stress would be the death of her.
“During that period of time I prayed and said, ‘Lord you’re taking away so much from me here at one time, send me something back…Lottery, good companion, or something’…Yeah I went there. Two weeks after I made that prayer, I met my husband…That was 14 years ago and we’ve been married ten years so God answered that prayer.” – Janice Baldon-Gutter
Her strong mentality allowed her to persevere through adversity but unfortunately after 15 years of caring for her parents, they both succumbed to their illnesses. Throughout her journey Baldon-Gutter gained valuable information that she feels will assist others that may find themselves in this situation so she decided to author a book entitled, Caregiving: A Daughter’s Story.
“This is more like a guidebook or handbook for all caregivers. It talks about general tips for all caregivers…How to approach the conversation with the family…How to talk to healthcare professionals about your love ones and also legal professionals…How to gather resources and where to gather resources.” – Janice Baldon-Gutter
Many people associate caregiving with only the elderly but its parameters expand to disabled children, and spouses as well. Being that depression and anger can possibly consume the caregiver, Baldon-Gutter’s book offers detailed insight on the caregiving process and how to return to a normal lifestyle once caregiving is over.
Workplace relationships is another topic that Baldon-Gutter addresses in her book. Employers can often be unsympathetic to the needs of their employees who suddenly are forced to assume the responsibility of caring for their loved ones.
“Work relationships are a lot better now than they were 14-15 years ago. Now they [employers] are realizing that caregiving is right up there with childcare. I had one boss that told me to come in the day my mother had open heart surgery but luckily I had another boss that was over her who understood and he said, ‘No…No she’s not.'” – Janice Baldon-Gutter
The nursing home experience is also discussed in her book. Many families aren’t emotionally, physically or financially equipped to care for their loved ones 24/7 therefore; admitting them into a nursing home becomes their best option.
Baldon-Gutter feels as though nursing homes are often excellent choices as long as the family researches the facility and checks up on their loved one daily.
“I want to emphasize to people that nursing homes are just that. They are nursing homes, not human grave yards where you put people in and leave them, and a lot of families do that.” -Janice Baldon-Gutter
In addition to the information provided in her book, Baldon-Gutter also hosts workshops and seminars for organizations which provide more in-depth information about the different aspects of caregiving.
“I also do workshops on this very topic for any organization that wants one.. Sometimes if I have enough notice, I come with an attorney or healthcare professional, because there are wills and trusts and things of that nature that need to be done.” – Janice Baldon-Gutter
Baldon-Gutter is a Louisville native and grew up in the Beecher Terrace housing projects in Louisville’s predominately black West End area. She graduated second in her class from Central High School and furthered her education by earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Louisville.
She was employed as a Human Resource Specialist at the Dupont Chemical Plant for 15 years while simultaneously furthering her education by earning two additional Masters degrees.
In addition to her employment at Dupont, Baldon-Gutter taught Business and Marketing courses at Jefferson Community College for two years and Micro and Macro Economics for 18 years at the University of Louisville.
Her resume also includes teaching Business courses at Indiana Wesleyan University, Devry University and online courses for Kaplan University. This fall she will begin teaching at least one course at Simmons University, which is Louisville’s only HBCU (Historically Black College and University).
Caregiving: A Daughter’s Story is available for purchase online at Amazon, Barnes&Noble.com and Authorhouse.com. Additionally, the book can be ordered from any other bookstore upon request. Janice Baldon-Gutter can be reached for information regarding workshops and seminars at firstname.lastname@example.org.