MAYFLOWER, Ark. – Maria Hoskins starts her day taking care of her daughter, Christina.

“When she’s in the house, we walk her around, trying to keep some type of strength in her legs instead of keeping her in the chair all the time,” Hoskins said.

Christina has cerebral palsy. She’s 35 years old, but has the mental capacity of a child.

“Cerebral palsy doesn’t change. It’s supposed to be consistent, but what they found is that her brain stems started deteriorating,” Hoskins said. “Chris used to run and she used to walk and about 14, she started becoming ataxia. We saw she was losing her ability to stay, on balance.”

Christina, or Chris, as her mother calls her, has to have assistance with everything, from walking to eating. Since July, the Hoskins family has not had a caregiver, so Hoskins has stepped into that role while also working a full-time job.

“It’s hard not having that help that we had,” Hoskins said. “My first thing is to get up to take care of her, then I go to work, then I come home, make sure dinner, clothes, bathing is done in the evening time, so it’s 10 o’clock before I even sit down.”

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, there are more than 43 million caregivers in the United States and 85-percent of caregivers care for a relative.

Hoskins has advice to those just starting on this journey.

“Talking to someone else that is already doing the process, if you’re just starting out, will make your life a whole lot easier, instead of figuring it out,” Hoskins said.

Hoskins said her focus was on supporting her daughter and making sure she’s not bound by the walls of their home. She’s also extremely thankful for her family who helps her.

If you are a caregiver, there are resources out there to help you with this difficult job. You can access those resources on the AARP website, by calling the Caregiver Help Desk at 1-855-CARE-640 or visiting the Family Caregiver Alliance website.