Here in our town, there's an often forgotten group of people who are giving their all each and every day for people they love.  The caregivers are the people who are standing strong every day to get things done and help the people who need the kind of help only a trusted companion can give.  Whether it's a relative, a friend, or an acquaintance, caregivers are important.

The Alzheimer's Association's Caregiver Support Groups are designed to provide emotional, educational and social support for caregivers through regularly scheduled meetings. They help participants develop methods and skills to solve problems. The groups encourage caregivers to maintain their own personal, physical and emotional health, as well as optimally care for the person with dementia.

Did you know that 52 million Americans are providing unpaid care for an adult with an illness or disability? And about 59 percent to 75 percent of caregivers are women.

If you provide care for someone with an illness or disability, you might have found caregiving to be rewarding at times. But it also can take a toll on you. You probably give up some of your free time to care for your loved one, leaving you with little time for yourself. Making time to take care of yourself is important for your own health and ensures that you will be able to care for your loved one. Here are some tips to help you reduce your stress and take better care of yourself:

    • Find out about caregiving resources in your community, such as meal delivery, transportation, day care centers, and respite care services.
    • Ask for and accept help.
    • Say "no" to requests that are draining, such as hosting holiday meals.
    • Make to-do lists and decide which items you need to take care of first.
    • Follow a regular, daily routine.
    • Don't feel guilty that you are not a "perfect" caregiver. Just as there is no "perfect parent," there is no such thing as a "perfect caregiver." You're doing the best you can.
    • Stay in touch with friends and family. Social activities can help you stay connected and may reduce stress.
    • Try to find time to be physically active, eat healthy foods, and get enough sleep.
    • See your doctor for routine checkups. Talk to her or him about any symptoms of depression or sickness you may be having.
    • Make time each week to do something that you want to do, such as going to a movie.
    • Take one day at a time.

I got to talk with Betty about the details of The Alzheimer’s Association and their Caregiver Support Group Meeting.

Keep in mind, taking better care of yourself will help you feel better and make you a better caregiver for your loved one.  And if you need someone to talk to, join the support group meetings here locally.  The meeting will be at the Wesley United Methodist Church, 1322 West Broadway, room 105. They will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept.26. For more information, contact Betty Hopkins at 660-281-0822.

Caringly yours,