If you are in the Pittsburgh area, the name Jennifer Antkowiak is a familiar one. She is a morning news co-anchor on Pittsburgh’s premier television channel, KDKA. However, Jennifer is also a strong and forceful advocate for those who provide care to persons with disabilities. Jennifer spoke to the Elder Law Committee of the Allegheny County Bar Association, of which I am a member, on Thursday, May 12, 2011. She described the problems and burdens caregivers face and told us about her books and website. I would not comment about a mere television personality, but Jennifer’s message is much more important than what neighborhood has a ruptured water main or who at city hall has been philandering as well as pandering. We have a crying need to take care of our caregivers and Jennifer devotes considerable time and effort to make us aware of that need.
Jennifer could be described as a high-potential over-achiever. She is one of those who take on difficult roles on top of impossible tasks. She was balancing her career with raising small children and being a wife and homemaker in the early 2000s. That alone would have been too much for most women and nearly every man. However, when her husband’s parents were diagnosed with the cancers that took their lives, Jennifer became first her caregiver, then his, as well.
The experience of being a caregiver for generations on both sides of the age divide at the same time gave Jennifer profound insight into this immensely difficult job. Although there are many rewards in supporting and caring for one’s parents or other relatives who are in need of that care, this taxing role can sap the health and shorten the life of the caregiver.
Jennifer’s experiences prompted her to become a champion for caregivers. She is the author of two books: Take Care Tips: How to Care for Yourself While You’re Taking Care of Others (St. Lynn’s Press, March 2009) and Caring Questions: Fun and Sensitive Conversation Starters (St. Lynn’s Press, October 2009). These thought-provoking, inspirational, and witty books provide vital lessons in both how to be a better caregiver and how to maintain your own mental and physical health in the process. Anyone who has a caregiver role and anyone who is close to a caregiver needs to read these books.
Jennifer also created an informative website, and formed several organizations to assist caregivers and promote their interests. Please visit her website and order her books. Also, help every caregiver you know with moral support and sincere offers to give them every kind of assistance you can think of. Just knowing that you care enough to offer helps, but if you are able to shoulder some of the responsibility of providing care, you will provide a boon beyond description to someone who truly deserves it.
John B. Payne, Attorney
Garrison LawHouse, PC
Dearborn, Michigan 313.563.4900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 800.220.7200
law-business.com ©2011 John B. Payne, Attorney