A Message From Regina
Most everyone I know is either a caregiver, is going to be a caregiver, or may need a caregiver. As we age, events happen which we cannot predict. For some of us, it occurs gradually. For some, an accident or diagnosis may change our lives more quickly. How do we cope and face the tasks before us? Because I have been a support group facilitator for caregivers whose loved ones had Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s as well as having been a 24/7 caregiver myself, I am always interested in what human service agencies are doing to help. Recently, I was reading a Caregiver Resource Guide produced by the AARP for Arizona specifically. In the opening pages, AARP divided caregiver needs into 3 categories: 1) Get the type of assistance you need; 2) Connect with others; 3) Take care of yourself. I agree with this set of three but also know that there is so much more that is needed to complete the picture. Let’s break down the 3 areas and see what else can be suggested.
Getting the type of assistance you need: How do you determine that? What is that which is happening is so traumatic that you feel helpless? My best suggestion is ASK FOR HELP. You may never have had to do this, but now is the time to find those resources which can make this transition easier. Ask professionals like an agency for aging social worker, or your doctor or health provider network. Talk with a parish nurse if you belong to a parish. Ask friends and family you can turn to. Don’t try to walk the path alone. Remember too that no one agency or person has all the answers. Keep the conversation going.
Connecting with others: This is not just talking with health professionals or family and friends. Find a support group of folks who are dealing with the issues confronting you. The Alzheimer’s Association has many support groups (About Seniors conducts a weekly group in our area for them). If you are dealing with Parkinson’s, the PMD Alliance is active and has many groups and resources for you. You can find out more on these websites: www.aboutseniorsaz.com and www.pmdalliance.org.
Taking care of yourself: So many people put this at the end of their list of things to do. We don’t feel as though we can take time away from our loved ones. We feel selfish if we do that. Believe me, that is wrong thinking! Please remember that your health is very important for 2 people now. What would happen to your loved one if something happened to you?? Make sure you go to your doctor’s check-up for your health. Go to your dentist. Exercise. Take some time out from your caregiving responsibilities to re-charge your energy. Two lives are counting on you!
Another option for connecting is the internet. You can browse and find more options for help in your community. If you have questions, also feel free to email me at our website or go to our blog.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the simple pleasures of food and company that the holiday can bring…….take care……Regina