Gray Power: Community help available for caregivers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Getting help from caregiver groups will assist you in living a more normal life.

– Consider a geriatric care manager to coordinate your parent&8217;s care. Support could include home health aides, shopping assistants, a housekeeper, a handyman, meal services and referral programs.

– Perhaps volunteers or staff from faith-based organizations could visit or help with driving.

– Respite care can give you some time off.

– Adult day centers, which usually operate five days a week during business hours, provide care to older people in a group setting &8212;including health monitoring, transportation, nursing care and therapeutic recreation.

Talk About It

Research suggests that keeping your feelings bottled up can harm your immune system and lead to illness.

Talk to friends and family about your feelings. Share experiences with coworkers in similar situations. See a professional counselor.

Join a caregiver support group to share emotions and experiences, seek and give advice and exchange practical information.

Deal Constructively with Negative Feelings

When feeling resentful, think about how to change things. Recognize the anger-guilt-anger cycle, and stop it immediately by forgiving yourself for being angry.

Then distance yourself from the situation, figure out what caused the anger, and decide how you can respond more constructively the next time.

Hold a family meeting to resolve conflicts with relatives. And recognize your accomplishments as a caregiver instead of dwelling on your shortcomings.

Providing care for an elderly loved one can be stressful, but there are ways to reduce the stress.

By maintaining a healthy routine, watching your diet, enlisting help from others and exploring community services that support caregivers, you can ensure that you are providing the best care possible &8212; for your loved ones and yourself.

Dr. Marvin Copes serves as a volunteer for AARP. He can be reached at