A Week in the Life of a Caregiver: Background
Elvira Sgusgu (pronounced SKUS-goo), left, lives with her daughter and son-in-law Martha and Salvatore Curcurato, granddaughter Christina, 9, and grandson Charlie, 17, in East Brunswick, N.J.
Martha looks after her family - husband Salvatore, daughter Christina and son Charlie - prepares meals and yearns for some quiet. It never comes.
The "crazy time" hits at 5 p.m. Her mom becomes agitated and repeatedly asks the same questions. Martha feels frustrated, then guilty about her frustration. She ducks out on the porch and prays for patience.
Martha, a Hunter College graduate, quit substitute teaching last year when her mother's health worsened. Summer was especially difficult. Her mother fell and broke her hip. The family's beloved rottweiler, TJ, 5, died after a bout with cancer.
Through it all, Martha perseveres, sustained by her sense of humor and faith. "There's no giving up," she says. A vacation? Forget it. A nap would suffice. She's a caregiver, one of 39 million in America.