Local help for families and caregivers of seniors

workshops are free to those attending; funded by the Age Friendly Community Project through the Province of B.C.

Are you the adult child of a senior? A neighbour? A professional who cares for a senior?

If you would like to improve the experience, come to the ‘Help for Caregivers of Seniors’ workshop on Nov. 15,  10 a.m. – 4 p.m., or the ‘Seniors and Caregivers Getting Along’ workshop on Nov. 16,  from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The workshops will be held at the Barriere Ridge (municipal hall), and you can attend either one or both.

“Some adult children become frustrated when their senior parents appear to be stubborn or irritated. It’s likely they’re not doing it intentionally, even though it may appear so. There are physical changes in our brains that happen to us all as we age. “Help for Caregivers” will help everyone understand those changes”  says Grace Baker, Mental Health Counselor and Chartered Mediator, who will be instructing the workshops.

“Sometimes the changes in roles can be frustrating for both the senior and the caregiver. Commonly the caregivers/family members need to manage the stress of their lives plus now managing the stress of taking seniors to doctor’s appointments, worry about the health and safety of  their senior and having a feeling of helplessness while trying to do the best they can for their family member.” Caregiver burnout is high.

Here are few signs that might indicate that you are beginning to experience the stress of caregiver burnout. You may be:

• Missing or delaying your own appointments in order to meet the needs of the person you’re caring for

• Ignoring your own health problems because you feel like it’s not as important as the health of the person you’re caring for

• Gaining or losing significant weight

• Overusing tobacco, alcohol, or drugs (including prescription drugs) in order to cope

• Trouble sleeping or getting too much sleep

• Feeling tired or fatigued

• Spending less time than previously with family and peers.

• Loss of interest in things you used to like

• Feeling overwhelmed, sad, depressed, hopeless or angry often

• Feeling guilty about not doing more

• Worrying constantly

• Unable to stay focused

• Furious one minute and sad or helpless the next

“Our goal is to support the caregivers before they reach the burnout point” says Baker.

“Sometimes we have to work really hard to help the senior to do things that are in their best interest. It’s can be a long slow process. It often feels like they are not happy with you no matter what you do and that’s hard because we really want them to be happy. Because your roles are changing, it’s sometimes difficult for everyone to adjust and sometimes our relationships suffer.”

The Nov. 15, session will help you understand your senior’s temperament and it may also help you understand yourself and your own children a little better too. It will cover how their temperament affects communicating with your senior and how to help motivate them more easily.

In addition, it will make it easier to identify what causes stress in your senior and how to recognize it at its earliest point. You will learn when it’s stubbornness, dissatisfaction or a cognitive decline issue that the senior may not be in control of.

Seniors and Caregivers Getting Along on Nov. 16,  is designed to reduce conflict between seniors and their caregivers through conflict management techniques. Participants will also learn some communication skills that are senior appropriate.

The workshop will also address the ‘Conflict Styles’ of seniors such as aggressive, assertive, passive aggressive, passive and avoiders. It will also help participants learn how to effectively deal with each style.

“There are some days as family members and caregivers that we feel like we’re having to manage all by ourselves. I’m going to provide resources and information on where people can find support when the caregiver is feeling stressed or frustrated” says Baker.

As well, the second day will help caregivers understand ‘Elder Abuse’ – what it is and what to do if it’s you….what to do if you suspect someone else is abusing or neglecting a senior.

“People often don’t really know what to do or who to report it to. Even if they just suspect that a senior is being abused or neglected, they need to report it to a doctor (250-672-9795), counselor (250-672-9773) or police officer (911) and it will be looked into. A plan will be made to keep the senior safe.”

“We’re really hoping that the community embraces these workshops. It would be great to have all the caregivers, family members and local professionals on the same page in order to support the seniors in our community together as a team. We all need to talk to each other and encourage one another to attend. I hope the seniors ask their family members, caregivers and professionals to go to the workshops.  Together we can be really helpful and supportive to our seniors.”

The workshops are free to those attending because it is funded by the Age Friendly Community Project through the Province of B.C. The funding is managed through the District of Barriere offices.

“We are thrilled about having it. Being able to run seniors programs in the valley is a positive thing. It’s great that the province is recognizing the age friendly requirements in our community” says Nora Johnson, finance officer for the District of Barriere.