Caregiving for a loved one can be a rewarding experience but, as time goes on, it can also be a source of stress, frustration and exhaustion. It can be confusing to know where to go for help and what services are available. The unending responsibilities and lack of rest can put the health of the caregiver at risk.
The South Delta Caregivers’ Network is holding a six-week education series to provide information to help caregivers prepare for the challenges ahead. With handouts, videos and discussions, the topics covered include caregiver stress, communication techniques, difficult behaviours, accessing community resources, and financial and legal issues.
A major benefit of the series is the opportunity to be with other caregivers who understand and can share experiences. Everything said within the group is confidential.
A frequent comment from caregivers is that they wish they had come sooner as the information and support they receive would have made their adjustment to caregiving easier.
The South Delta Caregivers’ Network is a volunteer organization that has been offering education and support to family caregivers since 1994. If you are responsible for the care of a friend or family member at home or in a facility, you are a caregiver.
Gail Erikson came to caregivers in the spring of 2015 because she wanted to learn more about how to care for her mother who had lived with her and her husband for 11 years and was in declining health. As well as the practical information about how to deal with the many situations that arise when caring for a family member with health problems, she was surprised to learn that so much emphasis was put on caring for herself as a caregiver.
Being with other people who understood what she was going through was a great relief as well as a source of practical hints and suggestions. As her mother’s dementia and dependence increased, she was encouraged to get help at home and to take much needed breaks and respite.
Others in the group helped her recognize signs of stress and the effect on her own quality of life and the need for change. In 2016, her mother got up during the night, wandered into the garage and fell and broke her wrist. When Erikson tried to lift her up, she injured her back.
After her mother’s hospitalization, Erikson realized she could no longer care for her at home and she was admitted to a residential facility. Because she no longer has to provide the physical care and 24-hour supervision, Erikson can continue to be her mother’s advocate and source of emotional support and can enjoy visits with her without feeling stressed and exhausted.
The family will be celebrating her mother’s 101st birthday on Jan. 28.
The next education series and support group will start Wednesday, Feb. 13 from 1 to 3 p.m. and run once a week for six weeks at the Centre for Supportive Care in Ladner. The cost is $40, which includes refreshments and unlimited monthly support groups following the series.
To register call Laurie at 604-943-3921 or the Centre for Supportive Care at 604-948-0660.