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How to be a caregiver for others, and still care for yourself

Christina Joseph By Christina Joseph

When Sarah and Mickey Solomon got married 57 years ago, they took the phrase “in sickness and in health” to heart.

Over the course of their marriage, the pair of 78-year-olds from Roswell, GA, have taken turns caring for each other through various illnesses. That’s why they’ve always prioritized their health.

“Being a good caregiver means that we have to take care of ourselves,” says Sarah. “We're great believers in preventive care.”

To help them stay on top of their health, Sarah and Mickey make good use of their Medicare Advantage plan. They schedule annual doctor and dentist visits, as well as other routine exams, like mammograms and colonoscopies.

Find out if a Medicare Advantage plan is right for you.

No one knows better than Sarah how a routine checkup can save your life. During an annual body scan with her dermatologist several years ago, Sarah pointed out what she thought was a bee sting on her leg from working in the garden a few days earlier.

“He said, ‘No, that's not a bee sting. It might be cancer,’” Sarah recalls.

More testing confirmed his diagnosis. During Sarah’s lengthy treatment and recovery from the surgery to remove the cancer, Mickey remained by her side. “He cooked for me. He brought me my breakfast, lunch and dinner. He really did everything around the house that I normally do because I wasn't able to walk on that leg,” she remembers.

Before her cancer diagnosis, Sarah had been a fixture in water aerobics class at a gym in the city. Medicare Advantage’s SilverSneakers® program covered her class fees. But by the time she’d recovered, Sarah didn’t want to travel 20 minutes to the gym anymore. Still, she needed to stay fit — for herself and for Mickey. Now, she walks 3 to 4 miles in the park with her son and granddaughter a few times a week.

“It gives me the energy to do all of the things that I like to do,” she says of the regular exercise. “It keeps me strong and healthy.”

Find out how to take a total approach to your health.

Sarah needs that strength now that it’s her turn to give Mickey a hand. He had back surgery 6 months ago and is still recovering. Sarah takes him to the doctor, picks up his medicine, cooks and handles anything else that comes up.

With her help, Mickey will be back to his old routine soon, puttering around in the garden when he’s not working in the home office they share. “We’re a team,” says Mickey. “Keeping healthy lets us do all the good things in life.”

About the author

Christina Joseph Robinson is a veteran editor and writer from New Jersey who still loves to read the old-fashioned newspaper. She’s raising two fruit-and-veggie loving daughters to balance all the treats Grandma sends their way. Christina’s health goal is to resume her workout routine after being sidelined by injuries.