Barbara McVicker ’69
Provides Hope And Help To Adult Caregivers
Barbara McVicker ’69 still remembers the night she got the call that she never expected. It was a night that changed her life, not only because she spent the next 10 years caring for her ailing parents, but because it eventually launched a whole new career path, educating others about what it means, and what it takes, to be a caregiver to elderly parents.
As she struggled through those 10 years, she says she felt completely alone at times, without any lifeline to help her cope. She emerged determined to find a way to help others navigate the medical, financial and highly emotional issues of caring for parents, especially when balancing the needs of a career and children. After gathering facts and personal stories from hundreds of caregivers and healthcare professionals, she wrote the book she wished she had had while caring for her own parents. Stuck in the Middle: Shared Stories and Tips for Caregiving Your Elderly Parents was published in 2008.
“What I learned was that most people are completely unprepared for this kind of life-changing event,” she says. “They wait for the crisis, and then they feel like they are drowning.”
Her book hit a chord and, almost overnight, she became a speaker and consultant on elder care issues. With nearly two-thirds of adult caregivers still in the work force, she gives workshops, webinars and presentations to corporations looking to better support employees caring for their parents. Travelling around the country advising people, but also listening to stories, she is especially moved to hear how thankful people are to learn they are not alone and to know they have support. She is now working on her second book, which she says is an expansion of the first with a focus on the steps to take
in a crisis.
Though she never would have expected to end up as a speaker, consultant and author when she was studying education at Wittenberg, she believes she learned how to reinvent herself while there.
“There were so many opportunities and activities at Wittenberg and I tried on a lot of different hats,” she says. “Part of evolving and continuing to evolve is to have a broad education at a good school. I was lucky to have that and take advantage of it.”