Up-and-Comer creates group for young adult caregivers

Feb. 6, 2018

This week’s Up-and-Comer is Sharon Richards, life enrichment director at Bethany Home — Brandon.

Name: Sharon Richards

Age: 24

Occupation: Life enrichment director at Bethany Home — Brandon, certified therapeutic recreation specialist

Hometown: North East, Pa.

What brought you to Sioux Falls?

My husband and I were living in Denver, and he had an opportunity to work for the Argus Leader. Having just gotten married in June, a more affordable city sounded like a smart way to get on our feet as newlyweds.

What keeps you in Sioux Falls?

My position as life enrichment director at Bethany Home in Brandon.

What prompted you to start Connections for Young Adult Caregivers?

From Colorado to South Dakota, working with older adults, it’s hard to ignore some of the ages of those affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s just as hard to ignore the age of their children who are becoming caretakers at a much younger age than we’ve seen in previous generations. Not only is this demographic going to be crucial in the way we look at how we provide memory care, but where is the individualized support for these adults in their 20s, 30s and 40s who didn’t expect to be in this position? It’s a giant need in so many communities. While there are a lot of great support groups offered all over the city, the Connections for Young Adult Caregivers is specific to those adults who are still figuring out their careers and life goals while juggling such an important and new role.

How does the program work, and who might consider being part of it?

I’m ideally looking for caretakers between the ages of 20 and 45 who could use a social outlet to learn, grow and support each other. I’ll facilitate conversation, but, for the most part, I’m there to be a listening ear for support and guidance. I really want people to build each other up, find balance and feel more educated about the situations they are living with.

The program will be in a room at All Day Cafe the second and fourth Saturday of the month from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. There is also a Facebook event group by The Alzheimer’s Association that I will be hosting for any additional questions and conversations — just search for Connections for Young Adult Caregivers.

What’s the best way for people to get involved with the program?

Show up! And don’t worry, I am totally aware of how difficult it is to find additional care for your loved one in order for you to get out of the house. That’s why I wanted the Facebook page. There’s no reason anyone should be out of this conversation. Please don’t hesitate to email me at SLRichards617@gmail.com.

You’re new to the community, so what are your first impressions of it?

Feels like home, which is a really small Welch’s (grapes) town in Pennsylvania, by the way. Coming from ever-so-progressive Colorado, I’m hoping to see more game-changing ideas pop up for the people in this community.

What’s one business you’d like to see in Sioux Falls that isn’t here now?

The first thing I noticed was a lack of adaptive and inclusive services. Second thing I noticed was no Chipotle!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I think memory care has become a passion that I’ll be involved in for the rest of my career. But ultimately, I would love to publish a scholarly article in the next five years.

Up-and-Comer creates group for young adult caregivers

If you’re a young adult who didn’t expect to be caring for another adult, this week’s Up-and-Comer has a group for you.

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