October 20, 2020
‘Powerful Tools for Caregivers’ Offered November 2
Providing care for another person is a big responsibility, and usually one that most people experience.
“It’s one of those things in our lives where, for pretty much everyone at some point, we will be a caregiver or will have someone care for us,” said Nancy Honig, a family and consumer sciences agent with Kansas State University’s Wild West Extension District.
Honig is among a group of K-State Extension professionals that is providing important support to those who care for loved ones. She will be teaching a six-week program, titled Powerful Tools for Caregivers, November 2 through December 7.
“The program is focused on the caregiver, not so much on giving care to someone,” Honig said. “The idea is that if you take better care of yourself, you will be a better caregiver to your loved one.”
“We liken it to when you’re on an airplane and the flight attendants tell you to put the mask on yourself before you assist someone else. Often times, when we’re providing care, we are so concerned with taking care of that person that we forget to put on our own oxygen mask.”
The cost for the six-week course – which meets online from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. each Monday – is $5. More information and registration for the class is available online.
“Some of the tools we help participants learn is how to reduce stress and how to communicate more effectively,” Honig said. “Communication is a big part of it. We talk about how to communicate with the person you’re caring for, how to communicate with doctors and how to communicate with other family members about the care you’re giving.”
Honig notes that one aspect of reducing stress is being able to ask for help.
“One of our biggest challenges is to help caregivers understand that they need to step back from a situation and ask people for help,” she said. “That’s a difficult thing for caregivers to do. I think what happens is that caregivers think it’s their obligation and they can’t let anyone else step in and do some of those things.”
Often, she notes, there are resources within one’s community that can help: “Knowing what’s available can be beneficial to you, but again, they have to ask for those resources.”
Honig said some other aspects of caregiving that are addressed in the program include:
* Emotions. “We talk about setting goals and problem-solving, because there are a lot of deep emotions and major changes that come along, including losses for the caregiver and the person being cared for.”
* Self-confidence. “It helps the caregiver’s confidence to hear how others have dealt with a situation. It gives them the confidence to know that they really are doing a good job, or the best they can in the situation.”
* Balancing act. “If the caregiver has a job and their own kids at home, it really can be overwhelming.”
* Be an advocate. “We really need to be our own advocate when it comes to health care and taking care of our loved ones. It’s okay to question doctors and delve deeper into what’s going on.”
Honig said plans are in place to host Powerful Tools for Caregivers quarterly. More information on the program and issues related to adult development and aging is available online.