December 10, 2007
Support Groups Give Caregivers a Shoulder to Lean On
Oswego - The Oswego County Office for the Aging is sponsoring a support group for caregivers. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 19 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at 299 East River Road in Oswego. It is hosted by St. Luke Health Services and open to all caregivers in the community.
“Caregivers are an underserved population in our area and we are interested in providing them with support and guidance,” said Leita King, Caregiver Services Coordinator with the Oswego County Office for the Aging. “We are organizing local support groups to meet the needs of caregivers and give them an opportunity to have some free time.”
King continued, “Support groups give caregivers a chance to meet others and share practical advice and tips on coping with challenges in a supportive, friendly atmosphere.”
The Office for the Aging provides information about self-care, programs and resources to caregivers as well as support. These services include: consultation, referrals, a resource center and quarterly newsletter, and respite.
“Caregivers need respite,” said King. “It gives them a break from their daily responsibilities and can encompass a wide range of services based on their unique needs.”
The Caregiver Respite Program may include giving them a chance to schedule a doctor appointment or attend a church service. It can also mean taking a short break for a movie, a nap, a visit with friends or family or a much-needed vacation.
The resources, programs and services provided by the Office for the Aging help caregivers in the community; particularly those that do not have the support of family and friends.
“This group has given me the support that I needed,” said Carol Abbott, a caregiver from Fulton. “At the meetings, we talk to people who understand because they're doing it too. We recognize that everyone's situation is a little different, but we support each other with compassion in a non-judgmental environment.”
For many caregivers, receiving this unconditional acceptance eases the weight of the responsibilities they carry.
“It is important for friends and family members to be supportive,” said King. “Some helpful suggestions include being available to listen when a caregiver wants to talk or simply offering them a cup of tea, a hug, a tissue or a smile. The smallest of gestures are greatly appreciated.”
Creating a support network is just one of the objectives of the group. Other goals include providing practical education on the physical, emotional and spiritual aspects of caregiving and teaching caregivers that they are not alone.
“I don't believe this group would be as it is without Leita,” said Abbott. “She has done so much for us and makes sure we know that we are not alone. Through her work and the support of this group, I finally feel like I have hope.”
The Caregiver Support Group meets on the third Wednesday of each month at St. Luke Health Services in Oswego.
If you would like a caregiver support group in your area or have any caregiver questions or concerns, please call Leita King at the Office for the Aging weekdays at 349-8691 or 1-800-596-3200 ext. 8691.
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