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Johns Hopkins Bayview News - Called to Care

Fall 2015

Called to Care

By: Meghan Rossbach
Date: November 2, 2015

Are you called to care? We're called to care for you.


Pastor David Whye with his wife Arlene
Pastor David Whye with his wife Arlene

As a caregiver, you may think the support you provide—helping your mother organize her medications, or taking a friend to his doctors’ appointments—is small in the grand scheme of things. But the truth of the matter is that the role you play in the health and well-being of your loved one is just as important as the care provided by doctors and nurses.

At Johns Hopkins Bayview, we recognize the importance of caregivers. For this reason, we have created a new program—Called to Care—that prepares and supports individuals caring for loved ones who have health-related needs and limitations. The program is funded in part by a generous grant from the Weinberg Foundation, and partnerships with community organizations and agencies.

Education

Caregiving 101

Caregiving 101 is a training program that brings caregivers and health care professionals together in a relaxed setting to discuss common issues of caregiving. The six-week course is offered at Johns Hopkins Bayview and covers topics, such as What It Means to Be a Caregiver and Accessing and Developing Resources.

Maryland Caregiver Teleconnection

Maryland Caregiver Teleconnection is a call-in program that provides information about medical conditions, managing medications and other caregiver-related issues.

Supportive Services

It is not unusual to feel isolated when you are devoting so much of your time to caring for a loved one. One valuable way to overcome these feelings is to talk with others who understand.

Caregiver Cafes

Caregiver Cafes are “pop-up” support programs and information centers for caregivers. The cafes provide a warm environment for caregivers to have informal conversations with health care providers and other caregivers, and obtain helpful resources.

Community Partnerships

Johns Hopkins Bayview partners with a number of community organizations and agencies in Maryland that already provide valuable services to caregivers and their loved ones, such as:

  • Home modification services to make residences safer
  • Respite care
  • Legal assistance
  • Financial planning
  • Transportation services

For more information about Called to Care and its educational programs, supportive services and community partnerships, call 410-550-8018.

David and Arlene Whye's Story

Pastor David Whye is caring for the caregiver—literally. Prior to acquiring cervical stenosis, his wife Arlene used to care for senior members of their church and community. At one time, they had five older adults living with them. Arlene bathed, fed, handled medications and made sure her “residents” were comfortable.

Back-to-back knee replacement surgeries in the early 2000s slowed Arlene down a bit, but David was happy to pitch in when she wasn’t able. Then, in 2014, Arlene was diagnosed with cervical stenosis, a condition where the bones in the neck put pressure on the spinal cord. “I was in so much pain that I could hardly walk,” she says. “Sometimes my neck and arm would go numb, making it hard for me to write or pick something up off the counter.”

As Arlene’s health declined, she stopped taking in new residents and began focusing on her own health. Surgery in the winter of 2014 relieved some of her pain, but she is still unable to walk long distances. Most of her days are spent in a wheelchair because standing for extended periods of time is too painful.

“My wife is still pretty independent,” says David. “I just had to start doing where she couldn’t.” “Doing” meant laundry, cleaning and cooking—anything that would require Arlene to stand for too long.

“Of course, there are times where I have to physically help her,” he says. “She has trouble going up and down stairs, so I assist her with that. Getting in and out of the bathtub is hard for her, and I hold her up when she needs to walk more than a few feet.”

David admits that the hardest part of caring for his wife isn’t the physical demands—it’s feeling like he’s lost his partner and not being able to do all the things they used to do together. To help him through, he finds support in members of his congregation and other faith leaders.

“Talking it out with friends helps me when I’m feeling down,” he says. “Some of them have been in my shoes before, so they understand how I’m feeling and offer great advice.”

To hear more about David’s caregiving journey and how he finds time to care for himself, visit hopkinsmedicine.org/jhbmc/calledtocare.