The Doing Good blog follows area charities and social service agencies.
About Amy Umble: Amy Umble writes about religion and social issues affecting the Fredericksburg community.
The Stress of Caring
In today’s paper, a story previews the annual caregivers symposium, put on by Partners In Aging. The event focuses on avoiding caregiver burnout, which is a pretty serious issue. Caregivers are more likely to become ill themselves. Doctors think it might be from the continual stress of taking care of a sick or disabled loved one.
Experts advise taking time for yourself and managing your stress. I haven’t had to take care of elderly parents, but I do know from having kids with disabilities that everyone tells you to take time for yourself. But finding that time can prove impossible. The Cleveland Clinic offers some practical, real-life tips for preventing caregiver burnout, including:
- Find someone you trust–a friend, coworker or neighbor–to talk to about your feelings and frustrations.
- Set realistic goals. Accept that you may need help with the caregiving. Turn to others for help with tasks. Local organizations or places of worship may provide support groups for caregivers and relatives of people with Alzheimers or cancer. I’ve included a list of some local support groups at the end of this post.
- Take advantage of respite services. Respite care can provide a temporary break for caregivers, ranging from a few hours of in-home care to a short stay in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
- Be realistic about your loved one’s disease, especially if it is a progressive disease such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Acknowledge there may come a time when the patient requires nursing services or assisted living.
- Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Set aside time for yourself, even if it’s just an hour or two. Remember, taking care of yourself is not a luxury. It is an absolute necessity for caregivers.
- Talk to a professional. Most therapists, social workers and clergy are trained to counsel individuals dealing with a wide range of issues.
- Know your limits and be honest with yourself about your circumstances.
- Educate yourself. The more you know about the illness, the more effective you’ll be in caring for the patient.
- Use humor to cope with everyday stress.
- Stay healthy: eat right and get plenty of exercise.
- Accept your feelings. Anger or frustration do not make you a bad caregiver.
- Join a support group. Share your feelings and experiences with others in similar situations. You will manage stress, find resources and reduce feelings of isolation.
The symposium is Nov. 6, 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Fairview at River Club in Spotsylvania County
For more information, call Pat Holland at 540/ 371-3375.
And visit Partners In Aging for more resources.
Another resource that may be helpful is the EDCD waiver, which is for the elderly and the disabled, to keep them in their homes whenever possible. For details, call the disAbility Resource Center at 540/373-2559 or your local Department of Social Services.
And here are some area support groups:
- Alzheimer’s Association Support Groups meet the third Tuesday of each month, 10:30 a.m.–noon., at The Village at Gordon House in Gordonsville. 540/832-7806 or 540/832-2286; meet third Tuesday of the month at Homecare America, West wood Shopping Center, 1:30 p.m., and Carriage Hill Rehab & Nursing Center, 7 p.m., 540/370-0835; meet the fourth Tuesday of each month at Fredericksburg United Methodist Church, 1– 2:30 p.m. 540/373-9021, ext. 15.
- Cancer Center of Virginia, a support group for cancer patients. Call 540/786-5666 for meeting information.
- Chronically Ill and the Peo ple Who Love Them, group meets Tuesday evenings at 7 at Regester Chapel UMC, 85 Bells Hill Road, Stafford. Participants receive encour agement, coping skills and support. Cost to join is $10. 571/236-9753 or visit new pathways.us.
- Mary Washington Home Health and Hospice caregiver’s support group meets second and fourth Wednes days of the month, 11 a.m.– noon. 540/741-1667.
- Parkinson’s Support Group meets last Wednesday of the month, 10:30 a.m. Call 540/ 371-7334 for location.
- Stroke support group, meets second Monday of each month, 6:30 p.m., Fredericksburg Ambulatory Surgical Center, 1001 Sam Perry Blvd. 540/741-4483.