Last week I saw a flyer about a Lifespan program. I decided to sign up and attend this lunch program. It was titled “Emotional Impact of Caregiving”. I figured I was about as emotionally impacted as anyone I know and they might have information useful to me.
I went to this program earlier this week. Lifespan seems to be statewide in each state sponsored by the Administration on Aging. Many states have a lifespan website specific to that state. One needs to do a search on “Lifespan, state name” and it brings up the lifespan programs in your state. They give talks locally for caregivers. They can also be contacted by telephone.
The flyer stated: Lifespan Presents: “Emotional Impact of Caregiving” “The emotional needs of caregivers are often the most troublesome aspects of caregiving. Discussion about how to recognize the emotional needs of the caregiver and the care receiver, followed by information about the types of help available in the community”.
The speaker was very informative and spoke clearly from her notes. She did not have any handouts though it would have been useful to have something to take home and refer to later. She did refer to Eldersource as one of the best sources of information about what is available in your local community.
I was surprised to see so few attendees. There were less than 10 people in the room. There were 5 professional caregivers in addition to the director of the facility where the free program and complimentary lunch were provided. The only person who did not seem to represent a particular organization was me. I was disappointed to see that as it would be helpful to build up a local network of people who share my interest and concerns about caring for a family member.
The speaker suggested that each family caregiver should list all the tasks you feel responsible for as the caregiver. This list would demonstrate to the caregiver why he/she felt so overwhelmed. Few people realize how many different tasks they are trying to keep up with. Once you realize how much you are trying to do, then you should see if you can get other family members to pick up some of the tasks.
This was the part that made me skeptical, even though the speaker said most people start out that way. She thought if you asked a family member or friend to do one specific task – like watch the loved one next Tuesday at 3 while you go to the dentist – then people would be more likely to help. She felt that when people ask how they can help, most caregivers are too general in their requests to “visit sometime” or whatever. She said people are more likely to respond to very specific time-limited requests.
I agree this might be useful if you had local siblings or other family members available to help, but it is not too useful for my long-distance family members. She suggested asking family members who are out-of-town to contribute financially to help obtain a companion a few hours or some other specific task. For some families, this seems to work very well.
However, with my family, this feels impossible. My brother insists he can’t even afford to pay rent or taxes on dad’s house where he has been living for many years. And my sister is living on social security in low-income housing. She can’t even afford a car and hasn’t shown any inclination to want to help in any way.
So, while I got some ideas on where to look for specific questions (e.g. the Lifespan web page as well as Eldersource, where I have looked before), it really didn’t help with my present situation. I was glad to see other professional caregivers were learning more about community resources and perhaps they will be able to help others with their newly acquired information.
One thing the speaker mentioned was that at the Federal level, the Area Agency on Aging was going to be merged with the Disability Agency. She didn’t know how that would affect the local level, but perhaps more services would be available to disabled persons. I searched for more information about this.
On the Administration on Aging web page, I found the following: “On April 16th, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a new organization within the Department of Health and Human Services – the “Administration for Community Living” (ACL). The ACL will include the efforts and achievements of the Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities in a single agency with the goal of increasing access to community supports and full participation, while focusing attention and resources on the unique needs of older Americans and people with disabilities. For more information, please see http://www.hhs.gov/acl.”
I am posting this today to share my new information with my blog readers. And I want to point out that Lifespan seems to serve people of all ages, and not just the elderly.