Caring for Caregivers: Ministry Offers Practical and Social Support

Josephine Noble toils as a caregiver for her brother and 98-year-old aunt. “Of course it’s challenging,” she says of the mental strain and demands on her time.

But someone cares for her, too. The TLC ministry of Watts Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina—average attendance 1,800—matched Noble to an upbeat “care buddy” whom she talks to nearly weekly.

“That helps lift your spirit,” Noble says of her pal’s cheerfulness.

Buddies are important, according to Lorraine Wright, TLC co-leader. They encourage caregivers with cards, prayer, calls or visits. But TLC workshops are vital, she says.

“Once I started taking care of her,” Wright says of her 93-year-old mother battling dementia, “I had all these questions.”

Legal complications often abound: How to make a will, or what if one doesn’t exist for the deceased? Many have never heard the word “intestate,” Wright says.

She found answers online, but what about caregivers without a computer?

Funding from Watts Chapel and AARP now supports quarterly sessions where experts answer caregivers’ questions, covering topics such as respite care, power of attorney, free transportation, funerals and medical help. The Saturday events draw about 55 caregivers who also enjoy free lunch.

Often, caregivers neglect themselves and become isolated, spending all their hours with an ill loved one, according to Wright. “You don’t realize how hard a job it is until you start doing it,” she says.

But seeing a nonrelative volunteer to help encourages Nobel.

“They don’t have to,” she says. “But they choose to, and that means a lot.”

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