Caregivers group offers formula for health |

Caregivers group offers formula for health

Dr. Deb Cash
For the Nevada Appeal

We Americans are, by nature, a busy bunch with long personal “to do” lists. Our lists include keeping up with the laundry, shopping, paying bills and, of course, making appointments to see the dentist or to bring the car in for a regular oil change.

The lists can get very full, but what if it suddenly doubled? That is, what happens to people who are thrust into the role of caregiver because a loved one becomes hospitalized or is disabled? Federal statistics on aging suggest that, “An estimated 44 million Americans age 18 and older provide unpaid assistance and support to older people and adults with disabilities who live in the community.”

Today’s shorter stays in hospitals and sky rocketing medical expenses often force family members and friends to become full-time caregivers with many medical, insurance and legal tasks added to their own full personal “to do” lists. So they just work harder to get that list under control, right?

Wrong! Unfortunately, this type of blindly pushing ahead to make the care-giving situation work is leading to a new public health problem. Currently, caregivers are in worse health both physically and emotionally because of burn-out, exhaustion and depression. Fortunately, caregivers are not alone.

There are resources to be found and the St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Caregiver Support group works to provide up-to-date information and support to help those one in three Americans who suddenly find themselves in some type of care-giving situation. Two years ago, the St. Peter’s Church caregivers group members began to meet and gather helpful local information to help prevent caregivers from fatigue and burnout. Their formula for health can be summed up in three short words: Stop, Talk & Go.

The first lesson in care giving is to STOP running around and wasting valuable energy by trying to do everything on the list yourself. Others can help with the many medical, insurance and legal tasks involved in care giving. But, a wise caregiver must stop and assess what exactly is needed, what are the resources (especially financial) and start making that “care plan” tailored to the specific needs of your loved one. Then, it is time to LISTEN to others. Strangely, this might be the most difficult for caregivers to do because they have to accept the situation and talk to others who have been through similar care giving challenges. So many just try to handle everything themselves and it is no surprise that the caregiver becomes ill.

Finally, the last rule or lesson is to GO with your gut, intuition and trust your God-given inner voice that tells you what is best for your loved one. Doctors can only give you an estimated guess on the unique nature of your loved one’s condition. Often patients are over medicated and give off conflicting symptoms and only you know that person and what is normal behavior for them.

So, put one thing on your care-giving list. That is to attend the next free caregiver support meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on N. Division and Telegraph. No one person can have all the answers so let others listen and share with you the frustration, fatigue and reward in being a caregiver. For details or more caregiver information, call Dr. Deb Cash at887-8846.