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Article Archive >> Senior Life

Caregivers: Learn how to Develop a Friend and Family Care Network

Caregivers: Learn how to Develop a Friend and Family Care Network

Mrs. E had been caring for her husband, who had a dementia type illness, for two years. Then Mrs. E learned she had cancer. Mrs. E knew help would be needed to care for her husband, since care giving had become a 24-hour a day, 7 day a week job. Mrs. E discovered the ROSE project, a joint program of the Alzheimer's Association and Commission on Aging. ROSE is an acronym that stands for Respite, Outreach, Services, and Education: the programs available through the project.
A ROSE project counselor worked hand-in-hand with Mrs. E to guide her through the ROSE process. Mrs. E's husband received respite care so she could attend support groups and educational programs to learn more about caring for her husband. Respite care was provided so Mrs. E had time to work with her ROSE project counselor to identify and secure a care community, that is, individuals who would voluntarily help Mrs. E care for her husband. Mrs. E's care community evolved from her family members and members of her church.
Mrs. E's care community consisted of twelve community and family members who shared the care of Mr. E. Mrs. E's adult sons, who live in other states, spent time adapting their parent's home to suit the parent's present needs. The sons made sure their parent's legal and financial paperwork was in order.
After being educated about how church members' could assist Mrs. E with Mr. E's care, the church's secretary set up a volunteer "care sharing" schedule. Church members volunteered to drive Mr. & Mrs. E to and from church, take them to the grocery store and to doctor visits. One of Mr. E's favorite activities is a weekly visit to Wal-Mart. Different church members visit the E's weekly and take Mr. E to Wal-Mart. Mrs. E was introduced to Mrs. C who takes Mrs. E. with her to a monthly support group for caregivers. The numbers of ways a caring community can help are limited only by the imagination of those providing care.
The best part of "sharing the care" is that those who want to help can help, when they want to help, doing what they want to do. Since so many people are sharing the care of one individual, no one person is responsible for doing it all, and everyone benefits. Those who are being cared for are well-cared for by loving, well-rested, individuals who are doing what they like to do. Those sharing the care responsibility receive the great feelings attached to doing a selfless act for another.
Most people want to help someone they care about but are not exactly sure what can be done or how to even offer help. Many caregivers are stressed beyond their limits hoping someone will offer to assist them, but not sure what the person could do to help or how to go about asking for help. The ROSE project can help those who need help find those who want to help.
To learn more about developing a care community call Anna Offutt, 301-696-0315, at the Alzheimer's Association or Ruth Brown at the Commission on Aging, 301-790-0275. An educational session, "Caregivers: Developing a Friends and Family Network" is scheduled for Wednesday, February 28, 2007 at the Commission on Aging. The program will educate caregivers, friends, and family members about how to develop a care community. The program runs from 10am to 1:45pm with lunch served.
The Alzheimer's Association's local office is located at 5 Public Square, Suite 307. Office hours are Monday thru Friday from 9am to 5pm. The phone number is 301-797-4892. All office staff members are trained to assist visitors and callers with issues dealing with Alzheimer's disease and other related disorders. The staff of the Alzheimer's Association can provide assistance with dementia issues from diagnosis to end of life.

The Alzheimer's Association is located at 5 Public Square, Ste. 307, Hagerstown, MD. Call them at 301-797-4892 for more information.

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