Page 2 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - February 2018 - 25-02
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Page 2 Senior Times - February 2018
By: Tim Mitchell, Fund Development Coordinator, CentraCare
February, the month that brings us more cold weather, also brings us the joy of Val- entine’s Day. A day to remind us to express our love to those very special to us. So of- ten when we think of love we think of it in terms of romance. However, for those of us who have had the opportunity to complete several decades of life, it has become quite obvious that there is so much more to love than simply romance. Love takes on many forms and the ultimate expression of love may be evidenced in ways that has nothing to do with cupid. In fact, some expressions of love can be downright laborious and exasperating.
Some of the greatest expressions of love are found in the 22.4 million households where physical and emotional assistance is provided to relatives and loved ones aged 50 and older (statistics from the National Alliance of Caregiving). Most of these individuals were thrust into the unknown territory of caregiving, often because of
the onset of a serious illness, while at other times simply as a result of the aging process taking a toll on the life of a loved one.
One caregiver describes her encounter with caregiving after her father experienced his third stroke, “My siblings and I went from asking Dad home-buying advice to helping him remember his address. It was
a journey we never wanted to take – a role reversal we never asked for – but a calling we were more than willing to answer. It was simple, really. We loved and honored my Dad, and we were willing to do what- ever it took to keep him in the comfort of his own home. With that decision made, we learned the ins and outs and ups and downs of caregiving.”
Caregiving is indeed a labor of love; it
is also extremely taxing on the caregiver. There is no manual that comes with a stroke victim or an Alzheimer’s patient. The task of caregiving is completed through on-the- job training and most people feel they are left alone to “figure it out.”
At CentraCare we fully understand the stresses and demands put upon the care- giver. Not only is it emotionally draining, it is also physically taxing.
Caregivers experience various degrees of depression, mood swings, and anger; overwhelming fatigue; sleep problems; weight gain or loss; feelings of hope- lessness and loss of control; becoming unusually impatient, irritable, or argu- mentative with the person being cared for and/or with others; as well as head- aches, stomachaches, and other physical problems. These are all symptoms of caregiver burnout.
If you have flown in an airplane before, you will recall these instructions for use of the oxygen mask in case of cabin decom- pression, “If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask first, and then assist the other person.” The reason for these instructions is universally understood. You have to be breathing before you can help someone else breathe. The same is true in caregiv- ing. You must take care of yourself if you expect to take care of your loved one.
One of the best things you can do for a loved one for whom you are caring is to first care for yourself. They need you well, rested and emotionally stable. That’s not easy to do, but thankfully there are numerous resources and support groups
throughout our community to help an overwhelmed caregiver.
CentraCare, one of those resources, is able to assist caregivers by providing a place for their loved one to come, social- ize, be cared for medically, receive physical therapy if needed, and to experience emo- tional support. This gives periodic relief for the caregiver so he or she can have some alone time, take care of personal business, get some rest, or visit with friends.
CentraCare also offers evening and week- end respite care that is totally free of charge because it has been underwritten by a grant from the Calhoun County Senior Millage. Through this program a person over the age of 55 can enjoy socialization, cognitively stimulating activities, a
nutritious meal and snack, and assistance with personal care needs. Transportation to and from the center is also included
at no charge. To learn more about these services you may contact Donna at
(269) 441-9319 or visit our website at
This Valentine’s Day, while cupid is in the air, take a minute to hug a caregiver. They probably need your support.
Caregivers, Are You Tired?
Let Us Help.
For dates, times, and to register, please contact Donna at (269) 441-9319
CentraCare’s experienced staff will lovingly care for your elderly loved one at our Battle Creek Day Center location to give you relief. At NO CHARGE* to you! WE PROVIDE: Transportation, Nutritious Meal & Snack, Socialization, Assistance with Personal Care, and Cognitively Stimulating Activities.
200 W. Michigan Avenue | Battle Creek, MI 49017 | 269-441-9300 | *Funds for this program are made available through a grant from the Calhoun County Senior Millage and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation

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