According to the CDC, caregiving is quickly becoming a public health issue, with 22.3% of adults today providing some level of assistance to a friend or family member. Almost one out of three of these caregivers offer 20 or more hours per week, and over half offer care for over two years.
After two decades of personal and professional experience in the space, Asha Tarry, who cut her teeth as a social worker before opening her own private practice, is launching a much-needed online program to support this rising population of caregivers. “When I started, I was one of the first women of color to blaze a path as a mental health practitioner, psychotherapist, and life coach,” she recalls. “Today, I’m thrilled to see so many women of color with private practices.”
During the early 2010s, Tarry also pioneered social media as a platform for psychotherapy and life coaching. “I reached out on social media at a great time,” she remembers. “People were hungry for knowledge, so I connected pop culture to their daily struggles. I was one of the first therapists to relate the mental health challenges of celebrities to those experienced by millions.”
How Asha Tarry finds her passion for caregivers
Tarry has always participated in the caregiving aspect of healthcare. As a social worker, she collaborated with medical practitioners to serve homebound individuals struggling with mental health challenges. During home visits, she assessed needs for therapy, community resources, transportation, or home-delivered meals.
However, when Tarry’s 80-year-old aunt suffered a sudden stroke, caregiving bled into her personal life for the first time. “I never envisioned myself as a caregiver,” Tarry admits. “I was going into dozens of homes and assessing people’s needs, but it never dawned on me that I would do this for a family member.”
Being the closest relative to her aunt, Tarry suddenly found herself making intimate medical decisions. “I determined whether she was going into rehab or needed surgery,” she recalls. “Then, I found a place for her to live because she couldn’t return home.”
When her father’s health also began to decline, Tarry traveled between three states to offer care. For over four years, she traveled between Jersey and New York to visit her aunt’s apartment, check her mail, consult with the medical team, shop for her, and eventually even listed, staged, and sold her aunt’s home — all while she regularly traveled to Maryland to give her mom respite from ongoing caregiving duties.
Tarry’s aunt and father passed away days apart. As she walked into the funeral home to put her aunt to rest, she received news that her father had died.
Within the year, Tarry’s mother started showing signs of dementia. Once again, in the role of caregiver, Tarry organized her mother’s monthly expenses, managed her property, and coordinated her estate plan.
“I did all this while running my business from home,” Tarry says. “I worked on certain days while coordinating service providers and visiting her in person on the others.”
Being a caregiver three times over changed Tarry profoundly. “As a social worker, I empathized but never truly understood the weight of offering support day in and day out. When you become a caregiver, it transforms your life.”
Today, Tarry works not only for the caregiving needs of her clients but also her own. “I am now a much more present person and a better coach,” she says. “I give myself the tools I need to avoid burnout, and I have a bird’s-eye view of what my clients can’t yet see. I can predict their needs more accurately than before and tune into their emotional window.”
Asha Tarry launches an innovative online program, Care for Caregivers
Care for Caregivers is an online community giving back to those caring for adults with dementia, depression, and other mental illnesses. The program’s 90-minute monthly group sessions give members time to process the emotional aspects of caregiving. They offer a safe space to address emerging anger, depression, frustration, resentment, and the turmoil of witnessing a loved one decline and transition.
“I love the group format,” remarks Tarry. “Since each member is at a different stage in the caregiving process, everyone provides support by sharing experiences. As the facilitator, I listen and pull out threads that help everyone grow. I aim to give people tools to recognize their most pressing needs and language to express them.”
The program also provides advocacy templates to help caregivers navigate conversations with medical teams. Each targeted template empowers caregivers to navigate one aspect of their or their loved one’s mental and medical health.
Tarry is also curating short, action-oriented videos that will be available between sessions. This content discusses pertinent mental health resources, wellness practices, and techniques to help caregivers regulate their bodies when they feel activated by emotional wounds.
Additionally, the program offers action plans to improve a caregiver’s well-being. During live sessions, group members create goal-oriented plans that empower them to move forward without feeling overwhelmed. When members return, they discuss the current plan and make adjustments for the upcoming month.
“We’re helping people strategize and anticipate their needs,” Tarry notes. “Often, as caregivers, we’re so caught up in the minutia of the day that we neglect our own needs. We need people to remind us to make our own doctor’s appointments, train ourselves to handle an increasingly aggressive parent, or seek therapy for building feelings of resentment. This group will help people take on one issue at a time, then give them tools to navigate the next 30 days.”
According to Tarry, one of the fastest-growing populations is employees who are caregivers. “Check in with your neighbors and colleagues,” she advises. “Maybe the amount of time your coworker takes off is rubbing you the wrong way. Before making assumptions, remember that these people are silent heroes, so do what you can to lighten their load, and remember that you will likely walk that path as well someday.”