Workshop aims to ease caregiving burden

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Caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can be a stressful and confusing part of life.

A new workshop by the St. Albert and Sturgeon Primary Care Network aims to make that transition, for both seniors and caregivers, a little bit easier.

Partnering with Home Instead Senior Care, the network is hosting a series of four educational workshops called Confidence for Caring, starting March 3.

Lori Jack, seniors nurse with the primary care network, said the workshops were born out of a need for more caregiver resources and supports in the community.

“It is very overwhelming,” said Jack, explaining that caregivers – spouses, adult children and/or close family friends – typically become aware of the initial stages of dementia after assessment by a family physician.

“They come to realize, ‘Oh this has been happening for the past couple of years’,” she said.

“The family member or child visits and realizes that Mom can’t make dinner anymore,” added Donna Brown, social worker at Youville Home.

With aging also comes grief.

“Family members grieve the loss of home as they see their parents age,” said Brown. “We want to help people adjust to this change, dealing with the emotions of letting go.”

The first of the free workshops in the series will teach participants how to make the most of the memories they have of their loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease. It will also teach how to manage their behaviours and maximize their independence.

The second session will focus on housing options: living with family, retirement and independent living facilities, assisted living and continuing care.

Brown, who gives weekly tours of Youville Home, said navigating the health-care system for aging parents is confusing.

“Some people have no idea what continuing care versus assisted living means and they don’t know how to access programs that are available publicly versus privately.”

The third and final workshop will focus on caregivers with strategies to minimize stress and finding supports and resources in the community.

As much as caregiving can be a rewarding and a bonding experience, it can also be very stressful while trying to balance jobs, finances, relationships and young children, noted both Jack and Brown.

“Caregiving can be isolating,” said Brown, adding that reaching out to support groups prevents anxiety, burnout and creates connections.

Jack hopes the workshops will increase awareness about the resources that are available to seniors such as day programs, transportation services, home-care providers as well as supports for caregivers such as respite.

“The goal is to have the person at home for as along as possible,” said Jack, adding that it is the most cost efficient living arrangement and eases the burden of care.

“The population is growing older and we need to get the word out. The baby boomers are well informed and want what is in the best interests for them and their families.”

Confidence for Caring Education Workshops

Date: March 3, 10, 17 and 24
Time: 1:30 to 4 p.m.
Location: 50+ Club, 7 Tache Street, St. Albert
Cost: Free
Call 780-439-9990 to register or RSVP to pam.hayes@homeinstead.com

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