Caring for the Caregivers: Supporting Those Who Support Others
by: Linda Manwarren, Wellness Committee, Chair
I like to say that there are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.
In the past six months, the topic of caregiving has become the focus of several conversations as its presence in my life grew, as well as in the lives of many of my friends. The very real confusion and frustrations frequently expressed during these conversations pushed me into exploring the topic of caring for the caregivers for this blog. According to Statistics Canada, just over a third of seniors aged 65 or older serve in the caregiving capacity.
Caregivers provide support to family and friends in a myriad of situations. This support is varied and often intense. It can include, but is not limited to, around-the-clock home care, delivering groceries, household maintenance, driving to appointments, navigating the health care system, tracking medication, and providing emotional support and companionship. Yet, caregivers frequently leave self-care at the bottom of a very long list of tasks. I hope this article will provide some concrete support and information with some emphasis on support for caregivers of a loved one with dementia.
The Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence, www.canadiancaregiving.org, is an informative and helpful website. A curated list of resources is organized by province and territories. For Alberta there are links to Alzheimer Society of Alberta, Autism Alberta – family resources, Caregivers Alberta, and Inclusion Alberta. I want to highlight two of those: Alzheimer Alberta and Caregivers Alberta.
The opening page of the Alzheimer Alberta website is organized around several areas of concern. Some of these are:
- I am worried I have dementia,
- I am caring for someone who has dementia,
- I was recently diagnosed with dementia,
- I am trying to reduce my risk.
Each of these leads to a page with research-based information and tips. You can also access support groups, online and in person. To find out more information and to reserve your space in a support group, call toll-free 1-866-950-5465.
The ASANT Café provides online access to information, education and support from the Alzheimer Society of Alberta and Northwest Territories for people who may be unable to access the existing in-person programming and services due to reasons of geographic, emotional, or social isolation.
First Link is another important link from the Alzheimer’s Society. It is focused on providing information and support to those newly diagnosed with dementia.
Alzheimer Society Calgary also provides support and resources if you are near that city and looking for support locally. In addition, they have a wide range of webinars that can be accessed anywhere, providing optimal care for the person with dementia and protecting the caregiver in the process through a range of educational workshops. Care Partner Strategies, Newly Diagnosed – the Path Forward and Coping with Caregiving are three examples occurring over the summer months.
Alzheimer Calgary gathered a broad range of contributors together to form Dementia Network Calgary (the Network) in 2013. In addition to its systemic work, the Network works at the community level to directly support people impacted by dementia through printable resources such as:
- Communicating and Engaging with a Person who has Dementia: This document is intended for friends, family and neighbours to help them feel more comfortable in their interactions with someone who has dementia.
- Considering Private Care:
Are you considering hiring care for a loved one with a dementia diagnosis? Here are some questions you may like to consider.
- Resource Guide: Caregiving: A six-page guide developed by the Dementia Network briefly addressing planning and preparation, legal documents, safety, and wandering.
Support for Caregivers www.caregiversalberta.ca
Caregivers Alberta offers a mix of educational and respite-focused programs each month, promoting the well-giving of caregivers through group and one on one supports further outlined below.
Caregiver Coaching. In this service, a caregiving coach will connect you individually, be a listening ear and provide support in navigating the system. A caregiver coach consults with community and health care professionals as needed. You can make an appointment to meet with a caregiver coach by phone or email:
Phone: 780-453-5088 or 1-877-453-5088 (toll-free) Email: [email protected]
Caregiver Support Community
This group is led by a trained facilitator and is offered weekly with a variety of themes. For example, there is a Summer Caregiver Support Community meeting on Wednesday mornings from 10:00-11:00. Caregiver Support Community groups are offered every week. After registering through the Caregivers Alberta website, you will receive the zoom link for the meeting.
COMPASS for the Caregiver program helps caregivers balance their own well-being with the challenges of caregiving. This program is a four-session, interactive, online workshop series. There is a $55.00 cost to cover registration and the manual. You can also apply for the COMPASS Scholarship Fund though an email to [email protected]
Caregivers Alberta hosts online workshops through the free platform Zoom with an option to join online or by phone. Workshops are recorded, and two recent examples are:
Caregivers Alberta provides the following printable resources as supports for anyone on the caregiving role.
- 10 Ways to Build Resilience
- A Caregiver’s Bill of Rights
- Finding Resources – Getting Started
- Planning Self-Care
- Stress Reduction Plan to Build Resilience
- The Caregiver Well-Being Checklist
- Finding Balance in Caregiving
- Put your Boundaries in Check
- Need Support Flyer
- Young Caregivers Association