Nancy Jaster knew her mom needed a wheelchair. But since she had just recently moved back to Texas from Illinois to help care for her parents, Nancy wasn’t sure where to turn for help.
Then she remembered hearing about
“They got back to me the next day with a list of places in the area that I could check out for wheelchairs,” Nancy says. “They were so helpful and kind.”
Homethrive is a one-stop online destination for practical information to help caregivers navigate all aspects of the caregiving journey—at home or in a facility. It offers 24/7 access to an extensive library of educational articles, videos and podcasts. And, as Nancy learned, Homethrive’s team of licensed, credentialed professionals is available to give personalized recommendations based on location and caregiving situation.
The need for caregivers is growing, increasing from 43.5 million in 2015 to about 53 million in 2020, or nearly one in five Americans, according to the
Thrivent decided to offer this membership benefit after reviewing data and researching what families need as they help care for their loved ones, says Steve Sperka, vice president of Solutions Design, Implementation and Support at Thrivent.
“The products we provide help people navigate the financial challenges when a family member needs care,” Sperka says. “But when you start to understand what else the family needs during these times, it’s so much more than financial. It’s emotional, educational and physical.”
Thrivent’s survey confirms this, Sperka says. When asked which aspects of life would be most affected by providing care to a family member, 65% selected financial; 39% selected family time or lifestyle and 34% selected personal health.**
“At Thrivent, we want to show up during difficult times for our clients and their families, in the times that matter,” he says.
Plan financially for a long life
Navigating big changes
A request for information about wheelchairs may seem like a small thing, but for Nancy that first interaction turned into a lifeline as she and her two siblings continued navigating care for their parents. Years before Thrivent launched Homethrive, Nancy’s parents had moved into an assisted living facility. Then the siblings moved their mom to the memory care unit and their dad into a smaller independent living apartment at the same facility.
Nancy is an experienced caregiver. She has a master’s degree in therapeutic recreation and previously worked as an activity director in a nursing home. But caring for others is different than caring for a loved one, and Nancy found that she needed someone to listen and supply resources.
“I was having difficulty helping Mom in the memory care unit,” she says. “Plus, I had just moved during a pandemic, so I was navigating that, Covid and helping my folks. It was stressful.”
Nancy, who had continued to receive emails with valuable information from Homethrive, reached out again. This time she opted to pay a monthly fee to upgrade her Homethrive subscription to include Expert Support, a tier of service that provides specialized resources including a personal Care Guide. Nancy’s Care Guide, Melissa, helped her navigate the situation and supplied emotional support.
“Melissa helped me put things into perspective and figure out what I needed to do to help my folks,” Nancy says.
Recently, Nancy reached out to Melissa again, also inviting her brother and sister into the conversation. They had moved her parents to a different care facility where they could be in the same building. “Dad visits mom at least twice a day,” Nancy says. “He takes her coffee in the morning, and then goes again in the afternoon. It’s nice to have them in the same building so he can go back and forth.”
No facility is perfect, Nancy says, and sometimes you trade one problem for another. The siblings worked with Melissa to discuss an approach to the situation at the new care facility. They came up with a plan, and Melissa even contacted the facility about the issue.
“The help we’re getting is so valuable,” Nancy says.
Using Thrivent’s Caregiver Resources is better than Google search, says Jennifer Behrens, manager of New Business Development at Thrivent who helped launch the program in the fall of 2022. Behrens personally used it as she and her sister navigated care for their parents, who lived hours away and needed support as their mom recovered from a broken arm and their dad from a stroke.
“You’re going to immediately find a lot of content relevant to you and your caregiving situation,” Behrens says. “The best feature is the ability to chat or schedule a phone call during business hours with a licensed social worker who has expertise in elder care and aging. You can talk about your own situation and their responses will be specific for you. Homethrive is trying to help you help your aging adults live in their homes safely and securely for as long as possible.”
More than 3,000 Thrivent clients have enrolled in the program. Some of those needing additional support have upgraded to the Expert Support service, which is a monthly subscription-based program that you can opt in and out of as Nancy did.
“It can be so isolating when you’re a caregiver,” Behrens says. “And when you’re in it, you feel like you have to learn all this stuff yourself. It’s helpful to know others have gone before you and have sorted it out.”
Donna Hein is senior editor of Thrivent Magazine.