A Round Rock woman was recently awarded a Road Scholar grant to explore the Grand Canyon in May 2016. Karen Norrod, 54, received the Caregiver Grant in honor of her work as a family caregiver.
Norrod’s background includes work as a secretary for the National Institutes of Health and Computer Sciences Corporation, but she’s most proud of having worked on a Challenger space shuttle mission. She’s also proud of losing more than 100 pounds and being named the 2010 Take Off Pounds Sensibly (TOPS) Texas State Queen.
Due to the failing health of her parents as well as her own health issues, Norrod left her job, took part-time work as a Certified Nursing Assistant with Senior Helpers and moved into the same apartment complex as her parents in order to be closer to them. Her father, 83 and diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease several years ago, has since been moved to a local nursing home. Her mother Rita, 78, still lives in the same apartment in Round Rock, allowing her to be closer to her daughter as well as to regularly visit her husband in the nursing home.
Norrod’s mother, while very independent, counts on her daughter to handle her finances and other day-to-day activities. Norrod keeps track of her mother’s checkbook and pays her bills, reviews medical and insurance bills, monitors her phone calls (seniors are sometimes targets of scams) and manages her father’s care at the nursing home.
Norrod had never been on a Road Scholar program before and learned about the Caregiver Grant online. “All of my siblings have traveled, but I’ve never really had the opportunity to travel much,” said Norrod. “My best friend encouraged me to apply and my family and friends were so excited for me when I received my acceptance letter.”
Road Scholar learning adventures provide caregivers with much needed respite. Expert leaders guide the programs and create a warm and welcoming environment in which participants often foster new lasting friendships.