Support Groups Help Caregivers Cope with Feelings, Stress

By Biles, Jan | The Topeka Capital-Journal, October 9, 2016 | Go to article overview

Support Groups Help Caregivers Cope with Feelings, Stress


Biles, Jan, The Topeka Capital-Journal


Being a caregiver for someone with physical and/or cognitive limitations can be an exhausting, round-the-clock responsibility. That's why it's important for caregivers to take steps to care for themselves, too.

"It's OK to ask for help," said April Maddox, care management program manager at Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging Inc.

Caregivers of older adults typically help with preparation of meals, bathing and dressing, grocery shopping, housecleaning, management of medications, arrangements for services, transportation to doctor's appointments and pay most of household bills.

Caregivers may become overwhelmed, especially if the loved one has cognitive issues or can no longer communicate effectively, said Tim Keogh, a social worker with the Program of All-Inclusive Care at Midland Care.

"They take on the responsibility, but (the loved one) can't communicate or give guidance," Keogh said. "(It can lead to) frustration, stress and confusion."

Many times, caregivers also are balancing a job and other family duties, creating additional physical and emotional stress.

To help alleviate that stress, JAAA recommends caregivers:

- Get sufficient sleep.

- Eat a healthy diet.

- Exercise and stay physically fit.

- Schedule periodic health checkups.

- Avoid abusing drugs or alcohol.

- Socialize with friends and family.

- Pursue their own interests.

- Seek support from family, friends, professionals, religious advisers or peer support groups.

- Use appropriate in-home and community-based services, such as a respite care or adult day care program that watches over the older adult to give the caregiver a short period of relief.

Keogh said it's important for caregivers to be specific when asking for help.

"Don't expect people to read your mind about what you need," he said.

When caregiving becomes overwhelming, Maddox said, it might be helpful for the caregiver to talk to a professional counselor about their feelings or attend a support group where they can talk with other caregivers who are struggling with the same issues. …

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