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Support group cares for caregivers

Deb Cash
For the Nevada Appeal

This time of year most of us focus on creating our New Year’s resolutions, which are the usual vows to lose weight, save money or clean out the jam-packed garage.

But, if you are a “caregiver” to a loved one, you have some added and perhaps secret resolutions. These resolutions center around another person’s needs and may sound like, ” I must work on being more patient with my mother’s hearing problem.” Or, “I have to find a better doctor or specialist who understands my (paraplegic) uncle.”

These resolutions may not sound so daunting. But, if you are one of the 50 million Americans who are already caring for the needs of a seriously ill or aging relative or friend (a caregiver), then you might already be on emotional overload. Caregiving is also on top of the your many other responsibilities as parent, spouse and probably overworked employee.

Most caregivers sincerely want to be there for their aging parent, relative or friend to help with the many doctors visits and trips to the bank and grocery store. And, now even more of us are called to be caregivers because the number caring for elderly, disabled or chronically ill loved one is growing due to tough economic times and increased prices of assisted living. Most people are thrust into the role of a caregiver without help or special resources.

Well meaning friends and counselors, many who have never been a caregiver, can even increase a caregiver’s emotional burden by suggesting that they aren’t “really” responsible for the feelings and moods of their ill or needy loved ones or friends. But, a caregiver quickly learns how much their actions influence the happiness and well being of their relative or friend in need. Just a quick visit or taking the time to really listen to their loved one can change their outlook from depression to content.

Conversely, the caregiver’s feelings can easily take a turn to frustration and even rage when they hear that their loved one was unnecessarily treated with unkindness by a physician or insurance or medical representative. Caregivers face daily emotional, medical and legal quagmires and Catch 22s from the medical and insurance systems.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church Rector, Fr. Jeff Paul recognizes that caregivers need care too. They need to share their personal stories. A safe and free caregivers support group meets next door to the church in the rectory on the first and third Thursday of each month.

Fr. Jeff reminds all, not just caregivers, that you cannot care for others unless you are willing to receive care or take care from friends, loved ones and those in the community ready to help.

All are encouraged to call Deb Cash, group facilitator and caregiver, at 775-992-1534 for more information regarding the caregivers support group.