Providing care to family members when they need it for a short-term recovery period is one thing, but being a caregiver for someone with a chronic health condition requires stamina and patience, with a generous done of humor thrown in for good measure.
And although caregivers can be really good at making sure they’re doing the very best for those in their care, they may not be so great at taking care of their own needs. But a class offered through the Kerr-Tar Area Agency on Aging may be just the thing to help caregivers take those all-important steps to learn how to be good to themselves, too.
Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a six-week course offered via Zoom for caregivers to learn about self-care as they also learn about resources available in the community, said Susan Tucker, an administrative assistant at KTCOG who also has provided care to a family member. The class begins Tuesday, May 17 and continues on Tuesdays through June 21. The class is from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Tucker told John C. Rose on Wednesday’s Town Talk that she was unprepared for her role as a caregiver to her mother back in 2016. When she took this course she said she learned how to “not just survive, but to thrive as a caregiver.”
So much so, in fact, that she became an instructor for the course.
Michael Patterson, KTCOG’s family caregiver specialist, also is a course instructor. “It’s a six-week opportunity to learn not only about caregiving but to learn about themselves,” Patterson said. The course is designed for those who are actively caring for an aging adult. Each session builds on the previous session, so it’s important to try to carve out that 90 minutes each week to log in and participate, Tucker said.
In fact, that’s an important point for caregivers to remember, Tucker and Patterson said – making time to do things just for yourself. It’s not selfish; rather, it’s necessary to maintain a semblance of balance between daily life and being a caregiver.
Burnout is a real issue among caregivers, Patterson said. “It’s impossible to pour from an empty cup,” he said.
The class will help caregivers learn how to manage emotions, reduce stress and cope with the issues and demands that go along with providing care to someone with a chronic condition.
John and Linda Sigmon took the class and they said it helped them with feelings of being overwhelmed and frustrated while caring for a loved one.
“You’re fighting not only the disease but your inability to deal with it,” John said, adding that the course increased his understanding and helped him manage his emotions so he didn’t “get totally wiped out.”
Linda said she looked forward to the 90-minute sessions as “a little oasis of time” in her week, during which she learned things that she could adapt and apply to her own situation.
John said he found the instructors to be humorous and witty, but also compassionate. “They’ve been there, too,” he said; the class instructors also have been caregivers themselves, he said.
Patterson said the class teaches breathing techniques and meditation, as well as understanding emotional triggers.
“They learn what ways they can make a difference in their daily living to improve themselves – which will improve them as caregivers,” he added.
To register for the class, contact Tucker at 252.436.2040. Visit https://www.kerrtarcog.org/ to find more information.