“The new normal.” That’s what Lynn Feinberg, senior policy advisor for AARP, called family caregiving in a 2012 report to the EEOC. Most seniors needing help and care are not in facilities. Between 80 to 90% of caregiving to seniors is provided in the community by family or friends.
But although caregiving is common, and often personally rewarding, it is rarely easy. Anyone who taken on this role knows how complicated and demanding it can be. What’s more, it is not a role that most of us plan or train for. The need arises and, almost before we know it, we find that we have taken on new responsibilities for which we are not very well prepared.
Family caregivers face significant demands on their time, their finances and their energy. Eventually these demands and the stress they create can take a toll on a caregiver’s health and well-being.
Family caregivers show significantly higher rates of depression, fatigue and anxiety than comparable people who are not caregivers. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, they even experience higher rates of physical ailments such as heart disease and diabetes.
These effects are even more pronounced for those caring for a loved one with dementia. Dementias, such as Alzheimer’s and other illnesses affecting cognition, place extraordinary demands on family member.
Every week in my role as owner and director of a home care agency I am inspired by the grace, courage and ingenuity with which unpaid caregivers rise to the occasion of caring for a loved one. But I have also seen what a difference it can make when they have the opportunity to learn new caregiving tools and techniques and to share their ideas and concerns with others facing similar challenges.
That’s why this fall ComForCare will be partnering with the Jointure to offer a five-week caregiver skills workshop for family members and friends caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. The workshop has three main goals:
•to educate caregivers about dementia, including Alzheimer’s, so that they understand what changes are taking place in their loved ones and what they can expect,
•to teach proven strategies and techniques for working effectively with the care recipient and dealing with stress, and
•to offer a warm and supportive environment for sharing concerns and connecting with others facing the same challenges.
We call these proven techniques “game changers” because of their power to improve the dynamic between care givers and care recipients.
We will be meeting once a week starting Monday, November 7, at the People Care Center in Bridgewater. Ideal participants should be currently providing care for a loved one with dementia and be willing to attend all five sessions.
Register online at www.jointure.org or call Jointure for information at 908-722-0233.