27-year-old with severe intellectual disabilities thrives as business owner thanks to mom’s support

Mom now calling upon state to support caregivers
27-year-old with severe intellectual disabilities thrives as business owner thanks to mom’s support

A total of 80 percent of Wisconsinites who need long-term care receive it at home, from family, rather than going to a nursing home or other facility, according to the Wisconsin Family and Caregiver Support Alliance.

That’s the case for 27-year-old Adam Nostad, also known as the “can man.” He runs his own aluminum can recycling business and is a member of the Stoughton Chamber of Commerce.

Nostad is able to lead a full life thanks to his full-time caregiver, Deb Nostad, his mom.

“This is my son, my family, and I will do what I can to provide quality of life for him,” said Deb Nostad. “Family is not an important thing. It is everything.”

For people like Deb Nostad, taking care of her son is a full-time, unpaid job.

A total of 97% of caregivers report some sort of stress, and a clear majority report they’re “extremely stressed.” They often have to quit their jobs, reduce their work hours, and pass up on promotions.

On an average day, Deb Nostad spends 16 hours helping her son, but not all families have the ability to provide that constant support as they juggle multiple roles caring for several generations.

The FCS Alliance said more people are in the sandwich generation, where they are moms and dads taking care of young kids who are oftentimes taking care of mom and dad.

The state is now trying to figure out ways to recruit more caregivers, making sure they’re well-paid, highly-trained, and given opportunities to grow professionally.

“Doctors diagnose, nurses help heal, and caregivers make sense of it all,” said Deb Nostad. “And I might add, they just plain make it happen.”

It takes Deb Nostad three weeks to train a new caregiver, who comes to relieve her in times of need, for just a two-hour-long shift. Low pay is among Nostad’s top caregiving concerns

“You could work at McDonalds or a retail store for a better wage than you can for personal care,” Nostad said.

Deb said the caregivers working with Adam make between $15 and $30 an hour. Considering the long hours and life-or-death decisions they face, she doesn’t believe that is nearly enough.

“When Adam was in the hospital, his care providers came up to give us a break because when he’s in the hospital, his cares are complex enough that the nursing staff isn’t able to keep up,” Nostad said.

Thanks to his mom’s unrelenting support, Adam has defied the odds, refusing to let his disability define him. The businessman has been gifted the quality of life Deb promised him, when she first held him in her arms 27 years ago.

“It gives him purpose. For me to see how that purpose affects his health and mental well being is phenomenal.”

Family caregivers in Wisconsin provide 538-million hours of care, worth an estimated $7 billion, to their parents, spouses, partners, and other adult loved ones every year according to AARP.

Get your weather forecast from people who actually live in your community. We update with short, easy-to-use video forecasts you can watch on your phone every day. Download the iOS or Android app here.