SUPPORT for CAREGIVERS
Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Guide…
The Mankato/North Mankato ACT on Alzheimer’s team has put together a resource guide which also has an online version. The guide includes the FPC caregivers’ support group and the online version has a hyperlink to the FPC website
The action team understands that people in our community want information when the need arises and this is an excellent way for people to get started. We want the resource guide to get out to as many people as possible.
Caregiver Support Group
The Caregiver Support Group will meet…
- The first Thursday of every month from April through December
- 2:00 – 3:30 m.
- Lower Level, First Presbyterian Church
- Please use double glass doors on Hickory Street to enter the building.
Caregiving is a job which more and more people find themselves doing and it comes with no training or manual. Caregivers give of their time, their energy, their money, sometimes even their jobs to make sure their loved one has a good quality of life. Baby Boomers are the largest group finding themselves in the role of caregiving, but certainly not the only.
This group is for anyone who is a caregiver—be it a relative or a friend. It will provide a way to share your caregiving journey with others, learn, and seek information in a supportive and confidential setting. The group is led by Janet Goff, Nadine Sugden, and Holly Stolp.
If you are a caregiver please come. If you know someone who is a caregiver, please tell them about it. This group is open to anyone—you need not be Presbyterian.
Questions, please call Janet at 345-7166 or Nadine at 625-6390.
Siblings and Caregiving
Old wounds and rivalries can come into play, making compromise about care decisions challenging
Ideally, providing care for an elderly parent would be a time of family unity and mutual support among siblings. Although this might be the case for some adult siblings, for many others, eldercare brings about painful conflict. In a study of women caring for parents with dementia, siblings were cited as the most important source of interpersonal stress. Often, the first close interactions that siblings have had since childhood are brought about through eldercare.
Most often, the spark that will trigger sibling feuding is the unequal distribution of responsibility. Even in large families with multiple siblings, there is almost always one adult child who will take on the majority of the care-giving duties. Whether this role is taken on because of geographic proximity, age, or emotional ties, it is certain that the primary caregiver will feel some resentment for doing so much and other siblings will feel shut out.
Many adult children will unknowingly place themselves in the role of primary caregiver by slowly taking on more and more tasks for an elderly parent. Soon, a pattern is set in which the primary caregiver is responsible for all aspects of a parent’s care. Changing this pattern can be difficult and it is best to get siblings involved early on. A primary caregiver who is trying to encourage sibling participation should remember these tips:
- Keep siblings informed about an elderly parent’s condition and care plan.
- Listen to siblings’ opinions concerning care decisions and be willing to compromise.
- Let siblings know that their help really is wanted and needed.
- Ask siblings to take care of specific tasks. Even siblings that live across the country can help by making check-in phone calls or locating services.
Family meetings are an effective way for siblings to work out conflict and set up a care plan. It is best to involve a facilitator such as a social worker, counselor, or trusted outside party who will ensure that all participants have a chance to be heard.
- Set an agenda for the meeting and keep to it.
- Focus on the “here and now.” Try not to bring up past or unrelated issues.
- Share your feelings with siblings instead of making accusations.
- Listen and respect the opinions of all participants.
Ideas for Preventing Falls
- Remove scatter rugs.
- Place secure strips under bathmats to minimize slipping.
- Make sure pathways to bathroom are clear.
- Check that bedspreads are not hanging down in the middle of a pathway where someone could trip; the draping is not always visible from above.
- As height sometimes diminishes with age, make sure your robe is still the appropriate length and doesn’t put you at risk of tripping over it.
- Install (or ask our group for help) handrails in tubs and outside showers.
- Place red or fluorescent tape on the edge of stairs to demarcate the step edge.
- Nearly 50% of falls are related to toileting.
- Have a clear path to the toilet at night.
- Place night lights to avoid going from darkness to bright light on the way to the bathroom.
- Sit on the edge of the bed for several minutes to avoid dizziness upon standing; especially important if you take heart medicines or many antidepressants.
- Consider using a walker at night for walking to the bathroom.
- Ask about strengthening exercises for the upper thigh muscles. If you cannot get up from a chair without the use or your arms and in one try, your legs may need strengthening exercise. ( This is the same motion used to get on and off the toilet.)
The Challenges and Opportunities of Caregiving
There are currently an estimated 44 million caregivers in the United States and the number is expected to grow. Here are some of the challenges they face:
- Physical stress. Studies show that caregivers are less healthy than those not involved in caring for others, with decreased immunity to illness, higher incidences of hospitalization, headaches, insomnia, heart disease, and higher death rates.
- Psychological toll. Caregivers experience high rates of depression, anxiety, stress, guilt and suicide.
- Financial strain. More than 35% of caregivers quit their jobs or reduce work hours because of family caregiving.
- Spiritual challenges. Caregivers may have deep questions that challenge their faith. They may become angry at or feel abandoned by God.
Along with challenges, caregivers may experience growth as they develop new strengths and learn new skills to:
- provide hands-on care for another person, perhaps for the first time
- offer emotional support and reassurance for someone they love living with illness
- access health benefits or advocate for a loved one in the medical system
- tap into social networks to find assistance support, and
- discover spiritual strengths and grow into a deeper faith.
Just as illness is a journey for the person living with it, it is also a journey for family and friends who are providing care.