Round-table discussion aims to open options for care givers

Posted: Monday, October 23, 2000

Anyone with a radio and telephone can participate in the Alzheimer's and related dementia care givers round-table discussion on Sound-Off, Tuesday.

The discussion, held from 9 to 10 a.m. on KSRM, 920 AM, will feature speakers Lori Brown of 1st Choice Home Health Care, Winnie Cosby of Frontier Community Services, Linda Boles of Forget-Me-Not Care Center, Lucie Stanton a Central Peninsula General Hospital social worker, Dennis Murray, the director for Heritage Place, and others in care giving positions.

Jim Pearson, chair of the care givers support group, said the discussion will offer suggestions to care givers on how to have more free time while still providing adequate care.

"Many feel they just cant get away," he said, adding it often is a 24-hour responsibility.

The support group meets at 1 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month at the Sterling Senior Center.

Pearson said the goal of the group is for care givers to share the hurt and pain of what they are going through while taking care of loved ones who are ill.

"It (the group) can be an encouragement to care givers," he said.

He said care givers should recognize when there is a need for a break and let someone come in and take over for a while.

The speakers will present what they can do for the patients and how they can help.

Also, care givers need to take care of themselves because their own health can break down after a while, Pearson said.

"They need to take the time for good nourishment to keep up their health as much as possible."

Pearson said it also is important that care givers plan ahead for the time they can no longer provide care.

Lotte Bogard, in charge of resources for the support group and a former nurse, said for many the support the group offers is helpful.

She said many people believe it is their duty to take care of loved ones, but there is help out there, even for a few hours.

"It can be helpful to hear what others have gone through," Bogard said.

She said the number of the group varies at any given time, but by having a publicized round table discussion, more could be aware of the support available.

"We felt we needed to get the word out because there are many out there struggling as care givers," Bogard said.

Bogard said giving care also could interfere with attending meetings.

"Many people say 'I cant go because I can't bring my mother, or my husband or ...' but they can bring that person and they will be taken care of," she said.

Dorothy Westphal, one of the people who started the support group, said she brought her husband to the meetings.

"I never missed more than one meeting in four years," she said.

Westphal said she was the sole care giver for her husband, Earl, who had some dementia from strokes.

She said the help she had from respite workers and outside care givers was immense.

"I would have never had made it if it wasn't for that," she said.

Her husband also looked forward to the respite worker. The visit gave him something to look forward to.

"He bonded with her a lot," she said.

The meetings are important for people to share experiences and find support in others. She said the meetings have been helpful, particularly since her husband's death.

"It is really heartwarming to share thoughts with people who have been in the same situation," Westphal said.

The group is reaching out, through the support group and the round table discussion, to the care givers in need of options, she said, even if just for a few hours.

"You have to get away from the stress, the frustration and the responsibility."

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