Support group for caregivers moves to senior center

| January 3, 2019

COSHOCTON – The caregivers support group that has been held at the Coshocton Public Library for the past 10 years has moved to a new location at the Coshocton Senior Center. They will meet on the third Thursday of each month, except for January, from 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. January’s meeting will be held Thursday, Jan. 24.

“We’re trying to incorporate with the senior center to hopefully pick up more people,” said Pat Lake, caregiver education coordinator for Area Agency on Aging. “After the Alzheimer’s support group disbanded, I wanted to continue a support group in the county.”

Currently, there are five caregivers who make up the group, but Lake is hoping to have more join.

“A caregiver is anyone who does something for someone else that they can’t do for themselves,” said Lake. “The problem is, if they don’t identify themselves as a caregiver, they can’t get the help and support they need.”

Joining the support group is a great way to interact with other caregivers and to receive tips and insight on how others are coping with caring for a loved one. Whether caring for a parent, spouse, or adult child, all caregivers are invited and encouraged to join.

“Every support group is different,” said Lake. “There are a lot of disease-specific groups, but mine is a general caregiver support group. One big problem with caregivers is isolation. They feel like they’re alone and nobody knows what they’re going through. It’s nice to get in with a group of people who know what you’re going through.”

The most important aspect of being a caregiver is self-care and Lake stresses the importance of self-care to all caregivers. Two employees at the senior center are certified to teach the Powerful Tools for Caregivers class which is based on how to take care of yourself and how to reduce stress.

“I ask them to rate their stress level and then I ask what they are doing to relieve that stress,” said Lake. “We talk about all the emotions: anger, resentment, bitterness, and how to take care of their emotions and not let those emotions overtake them.”

About 65 percent of caregivers suffer from depression and about 62 percent of caregivers die an early death. Lake stresses the importance of doing little things to take care of yourself and to get away from your loved one for a few moments to practice self-care.

“It’s really amazing to me, the one thing people say to me is I lost myself,” said Lake. “I don’t have a life anymore. Just something like going to a doctor’s appointment. They wouldn’t skip their loved one’s doctor appointment, but they won’t go to their own.”

She hopes that the support group will help caregivers get back to being themselves and to find that balance between supporting their loved one and taking time out for themselves.

“They’ve put their life on hold,” said Lake. “They’re not taking care of themselves. They’re just taking care of their loved one.”

She said that the support group has helped caregivers practice self-care since its inception. It also is a safe space for caregivers to let out their held-in emotions without being judged by others.

“You know you’re making a difference in someone’s life,” said Lake. “I’ve had so many caregivers say you saved my life.”

Lake is also a caregiver and has been for the past 22 years, so she understands the struggles and hardships of being the sole caregiver for a loved one.

“It’s going to benefit them so much just to get away from their loved one for a while,” said Lake. “Talking to others who are going through what you’re going through will be the respite you need.”

All caregivers are welcome to join the support group at the senior center. There is no registration required.

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About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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