Island Senior: Taking Care of Caregivers
Caring for our loved ones when the need arises is a challenge in the best of times. During a pandemic the challenges only increase. Caregivers face increased isolation while also facing the increasing challenge of keep their charge safe.
Starting on September 30, Gail Leschine-Seitz, Aging and Family Case Coordinator, and Debbie Haagensen, Senior Services Specialist, will be teaching a free course, Taking Care of You: Powerful Tools for Caregivers. The class will be available ONLINE via Zoom. Sessions will be on Thursdays from 1:30 – 3:00pm, (Sept 30, Oct 14, Oct 21, Oct 28, and Nov 4).
The Course will help caregivers develop self-care tools like; reducing stress, changing negative self-talk, communicating your needs, dealing with challenges, making tough decisions, and setting goals. Plus, if you are an unpaid family caregiver there may be additional resources available to you.
We all know someone who is taking care of a loved one. My friend Adrienne Adams who recently lost her beloved partner had some practical advise for friends offering support. She says, “Take, for example, the ubiquitous “Call me if you need anything!” offer: it’s intended to show support, but it’s much too vague to be of much help.
When you’re in the thick of it—especially if it’s a chronic illness or terminal diagnosis—the caregiver is usually overwhelmed and really can’t take the time to manage offers of help.”
Adrienne recommends taking stock of what you really are able to give and being specific regarding WHAT and WHEN you will give it. For example…
–“I can deliver and stack a cord of firewood this weekend.”
–“I can drive you to off-island medical appointments. My days off are Sundays and Mondays. Do you need an updated priority-loading pass? I can pick it up for you.”
–“I can come over this week and do some light housekeeping: vacuuming, clean the bathroom, clean the fridge. What days would be best for you?”
Be realistic about what you can give, even if its only 20 minutes. Giving a caretaker a break so they can leave their charge and do an errand or just get outside is helpful. When I was caring for my Mom I remember how having someone stay with her for just 20 minutes meant I could check my mail and pick up a coffee. That really helped break up some long days.
Again from Adrienne:
–“Would you like to come over for tea this Wednesday or Thursday? You are going through a lot and it must be really hard. I’m a good listener! If you need a respite visit I can help you arrange that so you can get out of the house. This last one is the biggest, and most beautiful gift you can give someone who is caregiving.” Be a good listener.
To register for the six-week course, Caring for the Caregiver, please call 350-370-7528 or email <email@example.com>. This course is supported by Northwest Regional Council
Thoughts on Supporting Caregivers by Adrienne Adams – is posted in complete form on the Mullis Center Facebook Page.