Friday, May 29, 2009

Back to caregiving!

Posted by Leona Bergstrom

This weekend I’m headed to Denver. Yet, another opportunity for me to see how things are going with my mom and with other relatives. I know that there will be some surprises, some concerns and some relief.

I would like to spend the next few weeks talking about the “stages” of caregiving and what we might do to be better prepared.

The first stage is “Watchful.” This is when we have a growing concern about the health, safety or mental functioning of a loved one, and we anticipate the need to provide some level of assistance or care. An immediate crisis may not be in effect, but the threat of one seems to hang on the horizon.

This is when we need to prepare for the probability of caregiving. We need to begin researching options, gathering information and taking proactive steps. We may want to look at the variety of educational resources available. Hospitals, senior centers, Area Agencies on Aging, retirement communities and other service providers offer educational seminars to help us understand the process of disease of disability.

BREAKING NEWS: One such educational session is being held in Mt. Vernon on Saturday, June 6. It is a Christian Caregivers Conference and will be held at Mt. Vernon Presbyterian Church. It’s free. There are some great speakers that will instruct and encourage caregivers.
Contact Vicki McCarty at 360-387-0620 if you are interested.

I love to see churches provide this kind of information for their congregations. I have an entire seminar series on some of these issues prepared if you want me to come to your church! I did one such training last week and a woman came up afterwards to tell me that her mother-in-law had just been diagnosed with dementia, likely Alzheimer’s. What should she do? What a great “watchful” caregiver! If she and her family begin to do some research now – on both the disease process and the resources available – care for her loved one is going to go much smoother.

Remember, these are emotionally laden issues. We all prefer the state of denial where we don’t acknowledge what is going on with our parents. But dwelling in that state is the worst long-distance caregiving you can provide.

(Photo by zappowbang, shared via Flickr)

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