If you are a caregiver taking care of someone else, it’s not only permissible to take time for yourself, it’s necessary for providing quality care for a loved one.
That was one of the overarching messages family caregivers received at a special Family Caregivers Boot Camp held July 21 at the Adelante Compadres Senior Center in Albuquerque and sponsored by AARP New Mexico and Adelante, a non-profit that assists families with a loved one who has special needs.
Over 50 caregivers participated in the camp receiving tips and information from four different speakers, each discussing a different topic: Legal Issues, presented by Lori Millet, an attorney with Albuquerque Elder Law; Alzheimer’s Care and Information, Chris McCaffrey, of the Alzheimer’s Association; Medical Issues, Melanie Mayo, of the Geriatrics Associates; and Care for the Caregiver, Marcia Martinic, the Wellness Manager for Jewish Family Services.
Presenters went over issues such as what legal documents family caregivers need in order to take care of their relative’s medical needs or financial issues, as well as more day to day issues such as how to incorporate a person living with Alzheimer’s into the household’s daily activities in addition to how important it is for the caregiver to take time for themselves.
“People aren’t aware of the ramifications of taking care of someone else on a regular basis, day in and day out,” said Shanna Lapsley, AARP New Mexico Associate State Director for Multicultural Outreach. “They don’t realize the energy, the emotional, mental and physical energy, they are using to take care of that person.”
Lapsley said that unlike someone who is paid to assist an individual, family caregivers are taking care of their own and as a result feel that admitting that they feel overwhelmed or that it’s a large amount of work just isn’t acceptable.
“But such feelings are normal and very common. It is a tremendous amount of work to take care of someone on a regular basis. At the camp, the presenters indicated that is why it’s so important to make sure that caregivers take care of themselves first and foremost so they have the energy to be a better caregiver. The camp also emphasized that there are resources out there that can help,” she said.
For example, there are respite care services, which have a trained professional come into the home and stay with the family member for a few hours so that family caregivers can take some time for themselves outside of the home. There are also support groups that can help caregivers who are really struggling with the challenges of caring for someone else.
Lapsley said the purpose of the event was to give caregivers resources that can make things easier on a day to day basis as well as provide the opportunity to visit with experts in the field on a one on one basis to get any questions or concerns addressed.
AARP has several resources for family caregivers starting with the brochure: Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families. The guide can be obtained through the AARP New Mexico Information Center located at 1930 Juan Tabo NE Suite J, Albuquerque, 87112, phone 505-830-3096.
AARP also has collected family caregiver resources.
For more information on Alzheimer’s contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 1-800-272-3900.
AARP plans to conduct similar boot camps in the future. For more information on the Boot Camp please contact Lapsley at 505-603-6101 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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