Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said last week about 20 percent of the county’s residents are 65 years and older.
Based on the county’s population of more than 909,000, that equates to nearly 182,000 people.
Various studies show those senior citizens are taking their grandchildren to school, providing medication to their parents and acting as caregivers for them and other relatives.
But on Friday, some of them relaxed for a few hours during a brunch at Oxon Hill Manor. The 122 people who registered to attend also received mental health, housing and caregiver resources from county agencies and nonprofit organizations.
“It’s important we look at people who take of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, spouses, nieces and parents,” said County Councilwoman Monique Anderson-Walker (D-District 8) of Fort Washington, who hosted the event. “They never stop caregiving. They need a moment for relaxation. It’s to … recognize today is just about you.”
The brunch coincided with National Family Caregivers Month in November, proclaimed in 1997 by then-President Bill Clinton.
According to the National PACE Association of Alexandria, Virginia, about six out of 10 caregivers work full- or part-time while taking care of a loved one at home. The observance focuses on the community to raise awareness of family caregiver concerns, support and educate those who takes care of loved ones.
Two particular caregivers and college graduates, Patricia Hunt and Amyvonne Grogan, talked about their daily lives helping family and others.
The one thing both women said keeps their spirits afloat: faith.
A Professional Student
Although Hunt retired as a social worker, she still renews her license in Maryland every two years. She says knowing the most up-to-date laws keeps her mentally sharp but it also comes in handy personally.
In 2012, her son-in-law had a stroke. So she moved in with her oldest daughter to assist with her family, included her two young grandsons.
At about that same time, Hunt cared for her father, Roy Hunt Sr., who suffered from dementia. He died in 2016.
Hunt also checks on her 93-year-old mother.
“I just stepped in and did what needed to be done,” said Hunt, 70, of Oxon Hill. “My son-in-law can’t really use his right hand, but God blessed him and surpassed the odds the doctor gave him. God is good in my life.”
Besides her faith, Hunt attributes her continued eagerness to learn another reason for keeping a strong mentality.
She received a bachelor’s degree with a double major in nursing and psychology at the University of Maryland in Eastern Shore.
Hunt decided to continue her education and obtained obtain a master’s degree in social work at Salisbury University in Salisbury, Maryland, in 2010. She was 61.
“I was a professional student since I graduated from high school in 1967,” Hunt said with a smile. “I write things down. That way, I can check things off the list just so I know I don’t go back over them. I tell my daughters to set aside time for themselves. How can you help your family if you’re down?”
Grogan, 66, exudes confidence when she talks about how her work as a special education teacher inspired her to look after residents at Fort Washington Manor, a senior community where she also resides.
“Caregiving is my spiritual gift,” she said. “We care about each other. When we don’t see each other for two days, we’re knocking on your door making sure you didn’t transition to the Lord. I know I’m going to be there one day in need.”
When she isn’t in Fort Washington checking on her neighbors, she travels to Temple Hills and cares for her 97-year-old mother, Earlean Stanley Grogan, who recently stopped driving.
Grogan said her mother still cooks, but the county’s animal control came to collect 13 cats Stanley Grogan nurtured outside her home. Two other cats remain at the house.
About five years ago, a then-92-year-old Stanley Grogan published a book, “My Poetic Journey: A Memoir.”
Last month, Grogan’s said her mother wrote a letter and mailed copies to Congress about legislation to combat animal cruelty.
Grogan credits her mother and her late father, a graduate of Howard University and a musician, on the importance of education.
Grogan received her bachelor’s degree in music education and therapy at Boston University and a master’s degree in special education at Bowie State University.
She has advice on maintaining a daily grind when caring for loved ones.
“Get enough rest. I stay focused on God and take my directions vertically and not horizontally,” she said. “I need to be very spirited in my mind because the devil is on his job. I need to wake up, stay woke and stay focused on what God has called me to do.”