Richard’s almanac: Caring for caregivers

REPORTER FILE PHOTO
November is designated as National Family Caregivers Month.

“Who’s taking care of the caregiver while the caregiver’s busy giving care?”

November is designated as National Family Caregivers Month. I learned this from Senior Center Director Laurie Fanelli who told me that it’s a time to recognize all who sacrifice every day to help those in need.

“All across the country family members such as spouses, adult children or siblings have dedicated themselves to helping those who can’t help themselves,” she explained.

According to the AARP 2015 Caregiver Report, there were approximately 43.5 million unpaid caregivers in this country. Almost half of the caregivers are caring for someone 75 or older. And in many cases the caregivers are senior citizens who could use some help.

With this in mind Laurie will begin family caregiver classes at the Senior Center with nurse Joy Bausman. Social worker Lucille Buergers will begin a caregiver support group. Firm dates have not been set yet, but if you think that you could benefit from this program, call Laurie at the center (631) 749-1059 to let her know that you’d like to enroll in the classes. There is no fee for the classes.

According to the American Cancer Society, caregiving can be exhausting and can quickly lead to burnout. The society describes healthy situations and ways of coping. They have come up with a checklist that caregivers should evaluate and maybe use to expand and strengthen their coping skills.

They include a supportive family and friends nearby for the caregiver. The caregiver is also urged to pursue hobbies or projects for work, church or community. He or she should take part in a social or group activity more than once a month and use relaxation methods like yoga or progressive muscle relaxation at least five times per week.

The caregiver is urged to get exercise, eat well and do something “fun for me.” Time management is also very important. If caregivers don’t take care of themselves, they might find that they will need caregivers.

The American Academy of Family Physicians warns that caregivers are at risk for health problems because of the high levels of stress created by caring for a loved one. Some of the health problems that they have an increased risk for include alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse, anxiety disorders, cancer, diabetes, heart disease including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, infection, obesity, headaches and pain in muscles and joints.

In additition, I’d like to call your attention to a recent solicitation that Islanders just received in the mail. It’s an appeal from the Senior Citizens Foundation of Shelter Island. The foundation is not to be confused with the senior citizens activities that go on at the Senior Center under the direction of Laurie Fanelli. That’s run by the town and funded by the town.

The Senior Citizens Foundation is totally separate. It is a private organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for Island seniors. The foundation has disbursed funds to add benches at Wades Beach, purchase a new golf cart to transport seniors at Camp Quinipet, improve walkways at Perlman Music Center and provide funds for needy seniors who are undergoing financial hardship.

Your donations help them carry out their altruistic activities.

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