Caregiver Boot Camp provides support to those caring for older adults

Pat Gray, Coventry Village Library manager, did what librarians do best: track down the most-reputable resources to share with the public. The usual image is that of a librarian pulling books from a shelf or printing articles from an online database. In this instance, Gray tracked down the best human resources she could find: experts in the areas of senior services, financial empowerment, Alzheimer’s disease education, home safety and housing for older adults.

In September, Valerie Reed, senior services liaison with University Hospitals, kicked off the library’s Caregiver Boot Camp series by sharing a wide range of local resources for the elderly and those who care for them, including chore services, homeless services for seniors, eviction assistance, food resources, fitness programs, transportation services, energy assistance and more.

“Valerie shared her resources, and we’ll also be able to pass them out to participants at the rest of the events that are part of this series,” said Gray.

Coming up on Thursday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m., is the second installment of the series, Managing Caregiver Stress (and Guilt!), co-sponsored by the Cleveland Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association. Cynthia Davenport, education and outreach specialist with the Alzheimer’s Association, will present a holistic approach for recognizing and addressing the mental and physical health of caregivers.

“Alzheimer's takes a devastating toll on caregivers. Nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers rate the emotional stress of caregiving as high or very high; about 40 percent suffer from depression,” said Davenport. “The best thing caregivers can do for the person they're caring for is to stay physically and emotionally strong. It is equally important to be able to identify stress, understand how it affects our physical and emotional health, and incorporate strategies to manage stress while caring for someone.”

The series continues on Thursday, Jan. 19, with Recognizing and Managing Difficult Behaviors, by Bert Rahl, director of mental health services at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging. This session will focus on recognizing the multiple and often interacting causes for a loved one’s inappropriate or difficult behaviors, and provide real-world tips and strategies for managing—or better yet—preventing them.

On Thursday, Feb. 17, Mindi Thal, physical therapist for the Visiting Nurse Association, will present Home Safety and Housing Options.

The series will end with Hiring a Caregiver: How to Locate, Interview, Hire and Contract for Outside Help, on Thursday, March 16.

“Being a caregiver can be overwhelming if you don’t have support,” said Gray. “We designed this series to offer practical, immediate help and information for those who need it most.”

For more information on the Caregiver Boot Camp series, visit www.heightslibrary.org or call 216-932-3600.

Julia Murphy

Julia Murphy is the marketing and volunteer coordinator for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.

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Volume 9, Issue 11, Posted 7:29 PM, 11.01.2016