Who Cares?

By Dorothy Ellerbroek, RN, Parish Nurse, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Minneapolis MN

Kind of sounds like part of a kids' argument, doesn't it? I want to get your attention for something really important. It is very likely that each of us has been a caregiver at some time in our lives, and quite likely that was for a short period of time, like caring for a child with a bad cold, or someone after a broken leg. While we were busy with other adult responsibilities over the past couple of decades, something happened . . . . there came to be a whole lot of people in our communities who are living a whole lot longer than people used to, it seems. Indeed, public health statistics show that we are living longer, and not entirely in excellent health.

There are opportunities to serve the role of caregiver for the entire age spectrum of the population, There are children with special needs that continue throughout their lives; there are healthy adults who develop chronic illnesses that are debilitating; there are persons of all ages having suffered permanent injury and disability from motor vehicle accidents; and then there are the needs of our aging population with limitations in a variety of ways, needing assistance and support in daily activities. The physical needs of these people are persistent, daily needs for which someone depends on a caregiver, sometimes a family member, sometimes a paid home health care professional, sometimes a combination of care givers to meet multiple needs. Some of the tasks include assistance with bathing, dressing, transferring, ambulation, eating, and toileting; in some circumstances the caregiver must be responsible for medications, treatment procedures, managing medical equipment, and household environmental care. As care-giving situations become necessary on an on-going basis, other concerns arise such as safety, emergency planning (fire danger, equipment failure), and so very commonly, caregiver fatigue, and “burnout.”

Often it is family members who are providing the care, without regard for their own health, fatigue, perhaps illness of their own, and they faithfully continue providing care until they are physically and emotionally exhausted, neglecting their own health. As the physical demands of care giving increase, so can the emotional toll; as illness worsens, the need for more care can challenge the coping skills of the most dedicated caregiver!

There is a new six-week course coming to Good Shepherd called Powerful Tools for Caregivers, beginning March 28, 2017. This class will meet each Tuesday from March 28th through May 2 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. This program is facilitated by individuals who have completed training with the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging to provide you with the highest quality of information and experience. The classes are designed to provide the caregiver with a wealth of tools that will help foster self-care, reduce stress, improve confidence, contribute to life balance, and find helpful resources. Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd is partnering with the Normandale Center of Health and Wellbeing in offering these classes. Registration is required.

For additional information and to register please contact Mary Cordell or Zach Greimann at Normandale Center at 952-977-9363 or 952-977-9374 respectively.