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Helping the caregivers

Dear editor:

There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who currently are caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.

Caregiving is a uniquely human act with a history that spans centuries. It will touch almost everyone in the years ahead—whether they become caregivers or care recipients.

With an aging baby-boomer generation, the demand for caregiving services has and will continue to increase dramatically through the 21st century.

When couples exchange their vows, they promise to be there for each other in sickness and in health, but they may not realize the full implications of those words until one partner requires care, whether because of age or illness.

Usually, the other partner becomes the primary caregiver and just like that, the relationship between the two of them is transformed. This is not only true for couples but also for children of older adults as well.

Perhaps the most stressful caregiving of all is tending to a victim of Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. With this disease, there are two victims—the person with the diagnosis and the caregiver.

People responsible for the daily care of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease face stress on an ongoing basis. Caregivers struggle with conflict between their loved one’s needs and their own. Giving by the caretaker that is not matched by adequate receiving makes eventual burn-out a certainty.

These dedicated caregivers need temporary breaks to refresh themselves and renew their energy. Intermittent caregiver support is often essential to sustain health and stability of family life.

It also enhances the caregiver’s ability to maintain the older adult within their home and community.

Our commitment at the District Mental Health Services for Older Adults Program is to provide support and services to individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, a related dementia, as well as older adults with a serious mental illness.

We also provide support and services to those dedicated caregivers caring for older adults on a daily basis.

The Caregiver Support Program is a community-based service designed to assist caregivers and allow them a needed planned break. Caregiving can be fulfilling and rewarding, but it also can be increasingly demanding, unrelenting, and lonely, especially if you’re doing it alone.

If you are a caregiver of an older adult, there is help available. The Caregiver Support Program is offered from Fort Frances through to Rainy River. Services may be provided in the family home or in the community for planned activities, whichever the family/caregiver or individual prefers.

For additional information, contact the Caregiver Support Program at 274-9400.


Sandy Skirten,

District co-ordinator

District Mental Health Services

for Older Adults Program

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