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Care for the caregiver: survival seminar slated for July 19 in St. Clair Shores

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 12, 2019


ST. CLAIR SHORES — Highlighting the fact that caregivers are at a greater risk for health problems because of the stress they carry with them from taking care of their elderly relatives, the Area Agency on Aging 1-B is presenting a caregiving survival seminar July 19 at the St. Clair Shores Senior Activities Center, 20100 Stephens St.

“It’s really hard for a family caregiver,” said Jill Gafner Livingston, of St. Clair Shores, who is a certified dementia practitioner and a certified dementia and Alzheimer’s disease care trainer.

Her class at the Senior Activities Center is titled “Caregiving Survival Plus Caring for the Elderly with Dementia.” It will be held from 9:30 a.m. to noon July 19. There is room for 40 to attend, and those wishing to attend must call (833) 262-2200 or email to reserve a seat.

The senior population is larger than it’s ever been and many of those with dementia are staying at home, so their caregivers are trying to learn how to care for them and understand dementia at the same time, Livingston said.

“What can we do to support caregivers, emotionally, because it rocks their world?” she said, explaining that she will answer questions like: “How do I take care of myself now that I’m a caregiver? This isn’t the life I expected. What do I do with dementia? I don’t understand it because no two days are alike, no two patients are alike.”

She will also cover topics that include learning how to communicate with other family members and ways to keep their loved one busy.

“There’s also huge suicide (risk) with caregivers, and anything we can do to support them, emotionally,” is important, she said. “This is one way we can.”

Cathy Backos, program manager for caregiver services for the Area Agency on Aging 1-B — which covers St. Clair, Macomb, Oakland, Livingston, Washtenaw and Monroe counties — said that supporting caregivers in their roles is important.

Some people don’t identify themselves as caregivers, saying that they are just helping a family member or parent, but identifying the role they have taken on is an important first step to preventing burnout and exhaustion, Backos explained.

“It’s really good to reach out and find services that can help you with your caregiving responsibilities,” she said.

To learn more about other programs offered by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B or to get assistance for seniors or caregivers, call (800) 852-7795.