Those caring for aging parents can find help from California programs

Leticia Juarez Image
Thursday, May 30, 2024
California Department of Aging helps children caring for older parents
For sons and daughters who switch to roles as caregivers for aging parents, the state of California is offering plenty of help.

HESPERIA, Calif. (KABC) -- Maleba Pease has been her mother's caregiver for a decade. The act of caring is a labor of love and devotion for the 57-year-old Hesperia woman.

"She's a little ball of fire. You know she was 98 pounds, a single mom raising six kids," said Pease.

Her mother, 89-year-old Maxine O'Steen, was widowed at 26 years old and provided for her family as a teacher's aide. O'Steen was fiercely independent until her late 70s when the onset of dementia began to take a noticeable toll.

"Around 2014, it was obvious that she needed full-time oversight. She was still walking but this is the era where the stove would be left on, we had to battle for the keys to the car," said Pease.

Their mother-daughter relationship shifted as Pease took on caregiver duties, a job that required her full attention.

At the time, Pease was a working mother raising a young son while trying to navigate her new role.

"I didn't see it coming but that was the date and the time that I realized someone has to step in and own it and take on the responsibility. So I did it," she said.

Pease said she eventually stepped away from her 25-year professional career due to the demands of her mother's around-the-clock care.

"I have yet to find one single resource that says here is the roadmap or here is the process of getting care," said Pease of finding help with her mother's care.

But after learning about the California Department of Aging, Pease did discover services for her mother and herself.

"Unpaid family members and friends provide the vast majority of care in our state and nation and they need a lot of support," said Susan DeMarois, director of the California Department of Aging

DeMarois says California is home to 8.5 million age 60 and older.

"We have an aging resource guide for all Californians. No matter what age they can access information about housing, about nutrition, about insurance counseling many of these services are free and available to the public," said DeMarois.

Other resources include in-home services like skilled care, respite grants for caregivers, as well as coping and mental health services.

"Asking for help is not easy. It wasn't easy for me," said Pease. "You are kind of on the sideline of seeing the person that has always been the most powerful person in your life become the weakest person in your life and from a mental health perspective it's a lot."

In a collection of essays entitled "The Caregivers Chronicles," Pease wrote about her experience. "It took a bit of counseling to realize I was suffering from complete and total burnout."

Pease credits the help she received from the California Department of Aging with giving her back the life she had set aside for so long.

"The best thing that I could do was live my life to the best of my ability with her and I choose to," said Pease.

More information about the California Department of Aging here.