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Re: Introducing Myself: Amanda Singleton (Caregiver Advocate and AARP speaker)

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@AmandaSingleton Hi Amanda! Welcome to the world of AARP! Glad to have your legal expertise here in the community! 

 

Folks - I've met Amanda and she's a great resource! 

 

Take care,

Amy Goyer, AARP Family & Caregiving Expert

Author, Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving and

Color Your Way Content When Caring for Loved Ones

 

 

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Introducing Myself: Amanda Singleton (Caregiver Advocate and AARP speaker)

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Hello everyone: It’s nice to meet you all. My name is Amanda Singleton. I’m an attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida, and I am devoted to assisting unpaid family caregivers. In the coming months, I will be speaking at AARP events and active in the online community on caregiving issues, particularly those revolving around financial and legal needs.  

 

I’d like to use this post to introduce myself, relate some of my caregiving story, and hear about caregiving topics that are important to you so we can cover them in future events and posts.

 

Here is my story: I’m not quite the age that people traditionally thought of when they used to think of AARP. But caregiving has no age ceiling and not much of a floor. I’m 38 today and caregiving has completely defined my life.

 

My whole world turned upside-down when my mother was suddenly diagnosed with cancer at the age of 60. I became her 24-hour-a-day caregiver. My mom was everything to me and to see her lose her independence and eventually, her life, broke my heart. On top of that grief, the stress and burdens of caregiving were incomprehensible. The “business of caregiving” was maddening and there were little resources to assist in our area. I lost my job when my FMLA expired, taking away the primary income source in my household. By the end of taking care of my mom, I was spent physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally.

 

There wasn’t much time to recover, as my father took his life the following year. He had estranged himself and was suffering from mental illness. How much and how far he had declined in a period of a few short years, I couldn’t have known until I received the phone call with the news.

 

In the meantime, a friend passed away from end-stage renal failure. He was a closet alcoholic. His family and partner were at odds. At his partner’s request, I got involved to assist with his transition after his discharge from the hospital and help mediate with his relatives. Those final days were a scramble to get his affairs in order, to get a plan. At the age of 34, he hadn’t expected to need a plan for his passing.

 

When life felt like it was at its darkest, out of nowhere, my husband and I conceived a child. A little girl. Caring for our baby, for a new life in the world instead of a life on its way out of the world, completely brought me back to living with joy and purpose.

 

In her short life, however, we have had continued losses. My husband’s father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April of 2016. It took months to receive his full diagnosis and he endured many procedures and hospitalizations.   We spent every available minute with the family to help out as-needed. This felt very important as my in-laws had a special needs adult son who needed a caregiver with him at all times. As we marched through my father-in-law’s cancer journey, it was a complete shock when my brother-in-law, the special needs adult, fell and broke his back. After weeks in the hospital, he was able to go home. Heartbreakingly, he passed shortly after.

 

The toll on the family was great. Perhaps related to the stress, perhaps not, my husband suffered an injury a few months later that left him bedbound. Although he was unable to stand or walk, as soon as he could get out of bed, he managed by getting around on his arms (like an octopus) and in a wheelchair. Caregiving for him at home, for our two-year-old child, for my one-year-old business, and spending every available minute with my parents-in-law was a marathon. But one I am proud to have completed. It took a while, but my husband physically recovered, and life regained a bit of its balance in our home.

 

Sadly, on the one-year anniversary of the day my brother-in-law passed, my father-in-law followed. We now are working through the grief and emotions that go along with such a long run of losses and devotion of life to the care and wellbeing of others.  

 

Today as I write this post, I am not in an active caregiving role. However, I serve caregivers every day through my work and am advocating for laws and policy change that will benefit the caregivers of the future. I can relate to how **bleep** hard caregiving can be, particularly if you don’t have a plan for it. My vision is to change the way caregivers are supported in our country and to make the road a little bit easier for others.

 

I want to know what you need as a present caregiver or what you remember needing as a past caregiver that could have made your life easier. So, please introduce yourself and share your story. And if there are any conversations you’d like to have about caregiving issues (especially related to financial and legal needs), drop me a line with your ideas.

 

Also, if you are a working caregiver, or know someone who is, please join me for this two-part AARP Webinar Juggling it All: Tips for Working Caregivers. You can register through these links:

Part 1:

https://onlinexperiences.com/Launch/QReg/ShowKey=50673&LangLocaleID=1033

 

Part 2:

https://onlinexperiences.com/Launch/QReg/ShowKey=50674&LangLocaleID=1033

 

Thank you!

Amanda

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