Caregivers need care, too

Free community workshop supports caregiver’s journey

If you’ve ever served as a caregiver for someone close to you — either through choice or necessity — you know this can be a journey marked by tremendous rewards, and at the same time great challenges.

Melanie Rheaume, a retired dental assistant, said helping care for her mother during the last months of her life after lung cancer spread to her mom’s brain was one of the hardest — but best — things she’s ever done.

“You constantly wonder if you’re doing the right things,” Rheaume said. “Mostly, you just try your best and trust love and faith to carry you through it.”

Caregivers, especially family caregivers, often get little training to prepare them to deliver the care their charges need. They may not always be treated as full partners in providing care. Moreover, they often overlook the need to make time for their own health.

Research shows caregivers often face an increased risk for health, emotional, financial and work-related challenges. Helping caregivers get the education, training, encouragement and general support they need and deserve is a good thing for caregivers and those they care for. Benefits include:

  • Reduced levels of stress and clinical depression
  • Better quality of life for caregivers and care recipients
  • Ability for those with long-term care needs to remain safely in their own homes for a longer period of time
  • Delayed or reduced need for a nursing home

Transforming the landscape of caregiving

Naomi Latini, M.S., a training and implementation specialist at the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, calls caregivers the backbone of our country’s long-term, home and community-based care system.

Latini, who will give a keynote talk at a caregiver’s symposium hosted by Norton Cancer Institute, said about 65 million family caregivers in the United States provide care for parents, relatives, spouses and children.

“Caregivers have a real need for support, and that need will become more urgent because of the financial impact as our nation’s health care system continues to change,” Latini said.

Symposium supports caregiver’s journey

Cancer care is one area in which caregivers become a critical part of a patient’s treatment and support team. Over recent decades, numbers of both cancer patients and cancer survivors have increased, creating a growing need for those who can serve as advocates, or long-term caregivers.

When caregivers take on the role of advocating for and providing care to loved ones, it’s not uncommon for them to neglect their own emotional, physical and spiritual needs. This often can lead to stress and depression.

Caregivers don’t always know where to turn for help. That’s why Norton Cancer Institute is hosting a free caregiver symposium where community providers can answer questions about financial support, personal care, support groups and other topics.

Breakout sessions will address a series of key topics. Lunch will be provided at no cost to participants. This is a free community program, but RSVP is needed to assure adequate seating. Here are additional details:

Caregiver Symposium: Supporting the Caregiver’s Journey

Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

University of Louisville Shelby Campus

Founders Union Building

312 N. Whittington Parkway

Registration/exhibits open 9 a.m. – Closing session 1:45 p.m.

RSVP by Friday, Aug. 19, to (502) 629-1234.


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