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Caregivers can get help from caregivers support group

by Joyce Hollister, staff writer

Caregivers need emotional relief from the stress of taking care of someone, be that person an elderly parent or spouse.

Often, just talking about their situation and sharing feelings with others who are caregivers can help them cope with the ongoing demands on their time and strength.

“The role of caregiving often becomes so deeply enmeshed with responsibilities above and beyond normal expectations that objectivity cannot be recognized when stress becomes seemingly unmanageable,” said Judy Walsh, who is the facilitator for a caregivers support group that was formed in the Valley July 1999.

People become caregivers for different reasons, and the support group was formed to help caregivers address and deal with the various stresses related to caregiving.

Walsh, a family case manager at the Family Support Council, has “been there,” she said, by assisting family members with the care of her mother and father before the two died.

She said that although loved ones accept the responsibilities of caregiving, the tasks can be overwhelming even when shared – but especially when bearing them alone.

Demands increase and the caregiver’s personal life decreases to an unnerving point, she said.

Walsh said people may want to consider joining the support group if they can answer “yes” to any of these questions:

n Are you finding that increasing responsibilities interfere with your family or social plans?

n Are you the primary caregiver of a close friend or loved one no longer able to live alone or no longer able to take care of himself or herself?

n Do you feel the need to talk to someone who understands, who has “been there”?

n Do you have a shrinking social network?

n Are you participating less in hobbies and other forms of recreation that is making you feel isolated?

n If employed, do you feel you are having trouble in your job because of the additional responsibilities you have taken on?

n Are you having signs of depression and/or health problems brought on by the tress?

n Do you experience a feeling of resentment because of the continued demands and little or no relief given to you?

n Are you experiencing alcohol or substance abuse as an attempt to combat feelings of an unmanageable caregiving situation?

Call Walsh at 782-8692 for information or to join the group. Meetings are held at Merrill Gardens Retirement Community, 1565 Virginia Ranch Road, Gardnerville, 2-3:30 p.m. the last Tuesday of each month.