Coping With Burden of Care
Classes teach unpaid caregivers that aiding others often starts with looking after yourself
By Paris Achen, Columbian Staff Reporter
Vancouver resident Virg Birdsall used to wake up at 5 each morning to go to the gym.
When his wife’s mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease caused her to begin to wander a year ago, Birdsall had to give up that ritual in order to be with her 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“I am a very physical person,” said Birdsall, 83. “I like to do a lot of physical things. I had stopped doing that.”
Earlier this summer, Birdsall attended a cost-free program for unpaid caregivers that helped him to recover his daily exercise routine.
Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a six-week class offered at Vancouver’s Southwest Agency on Aging and Disabilities. The class centers on preserving and in some cases, reclaiming, the health and well-being of our caregivers.
“Caregivers just totally neglect themselves because they’re so wrapped up in taking care of their loved one that they don’t take care of themselves,” said Shanti Potts, a Powerful Tools class leader from Vancouver.
The stress of family caregiving increases caregivers’ risk of depression and premature death, according to research. One 2004 study by the University of California’s Department of Psychiatry found family caregiving can take as much as 10 years from a caregiver’s life.
The caregivers at Andelcare are available to talk with you and your family about all of your home care needs. Andelcare is a home care agency providing quality, affordable caregivers in Seattle and the surrounding areas. Call 888-788-3051 for more information.