Alaska's population is aging, and more and more Alaskans are finding themselves with the opportunity of caring for an elder loved one, family member or friend. Becoming prepared to be a caregiver can optimize the experience.
Locally, the National Family Caregivers Support Program has an office at the Red Diamond Center on K-Beach Rd, to assist those interested or who find themselves facing the challenge for the first time, "We do an initial interview to find out what agencies if any you may have been involved with, and what needs you are facing. From there we can refer you to agencies for support or respite care which we are in the process of developing," says Robin Lampman, program director for the National Family Caregivers Support Program. Respite refers to a situation where a caregiver finds themselves overwhelmed and needs a break to take care of personal needs, according to Lampman the new program will provide a respite person to help out in that situation.
A variety of training programs and information is also available through the Caregivers Support Program, including CPR, hearing loss, Alzheimer's, elder abuse, medication management, how to take vital signs, bed mobility and safe ways of moving those who are disabled. Such training is allowing more elderly or disabled persons the opportunity to stay at home or in a family environment, "There are a lot of rewards for being able to have elders at home, the continuity of family members being able to learn from each other provides multiple benefits and goodness for both the giver and receiver of the care," said Lampman. The program has monthly meetings and a newsletter that is sent out that talks about information based on caregiver needs. The next meeting will be held at the Ninilchik Senior Center on January 17th, and on the 23rd there will be two meetings held in Homer and one in Seldovia, on January 30th there will be a meeting on hearing loss at the Kenai Senior Center. "Our services are not just for caregivers, but we're here for potential caregivers too, people who foresee themselves becoming caregivers in the future," said Lampman. The services are provided through a grant to the Soldotna Senior Center. For more information contact the Soldotna Senior Center at 262-2322, or North Star Occupational Therapy at 262-5456.
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