Editor's note: Helping Hands is a Sunday column offering our area nonprofit groups a chance to talk about their work. If your group would like to be considered for participation, email firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is by Julie Praska-Moser, Regional Manager – Caregiver Support and Respite, for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota.
Many of us don’t recognize ourselves as caregivers, even though we are.
Caregivers are most often family members caring for loved ones who are aging, or living with a chronic health condition. If you are a caregiver, you’re likely helping your loved one manage the very basics of daily living, such as getting in and out of bed, bathing, dressing, medications, grocery shopping, cooking, laundry, yardwork and transportation, to name just a few tasks.
Because it’s natural for us to care for our family members, we don’t always see ourselves as caregivers. But did you see yourself in the definition?
When we love our families unconditionally, we may not always notice that caring for someone we love can be physically and emotionally draining. If we’re not careful, the stress and physical wear and tear we experience as we care for a loved one can lead to depression and our own health issues.
It’s also true that the role of family caregiver can sneak up on us. At first, when a family member is diagnosed with an illness, a family caregiver might take on a few additional trips at the grocery store or snow blowing duties. But as the illness progresses, the demands of a caregiver can increase exponentially, and in some cases, require 24/7 care. All of a sudden, we can feel in over our heads.
It’s essential that caregivers stay healthy so that they can continue to care for their loved ones.
Yet, it’s easy to neglect our own needs when we are providing round-the-clock care to someone we love.
Here are some warning signs that you may need some support:
- You’re more irritable and less patient with your loved one.
- You feel exhausted and run-down.
- You don’t make time for your own needs.
- You’ve withdrawn from friends.
- You feel depressed or sad.
That’s where we can help.
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS) offers vital support to caregivers to help them stay healthy. We train volunteer caregivers who provide family caregivers with a much-needed break a few hours each week. LSS Caregiver Support & Respite also offers discussion groups where caregivers come together to support one another. We mentor caregivers with one-to-one coaching and offer education classes, such as “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” and “REACH” that can be life-changing.
This November, during National Caregiver Month, we are very excited to launch our Morning Out Program in Detroit Lakes. The Morning Out respite group provides social activities, crafts and various other activities for older adults needing care. This gives family caregivers time to take a break, go to a doctor’s appointment, run errands or have lunch with friends.
Morning Out will begin Nov. 20 at First Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes, and meets every first and third Wednesday of the month from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Our goal is to empower caregivers with effective coping skills and helpful resources to reduce stress and prevent burnout. If you like visiting, offering friendship and helping others, consider becoming a trained caregiver. You can qualify to receive a stipend and education grant!
To learn more about LSS Caregiver Support & Respite services, volunteer opportunities, or the Morning Out Program, call 800-488-4146.