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You are not alone

Empowering caregivers to find resources, even out responsibilities, find support

The job of a caregiver can be a stressful one with little to no outlet for a respite. There are a number of services available in Ray County to aid with depression and support for the caregiver as well as the patient. (Stock photo)

By Liz Johnson, Staff Writer

Taking on the job of caregiver for another human being can be terrifying. Caregiving is a daily task that often presents insurmountable odds that the caregiver must look beyond and face head on.

Caregiving can be exhausting and mind-boggling. It involves decision-making that sometimes is life saving – or ending. Caregiving is often longer than an eight-hour workday. Most of the time it is 24/7 with little or no relief to the caregiver herself/himself.

There are, however, moments of tenderness, relief, love, nurturing and memories as caregiver and patient embark on the journey together.

Caregiving does not always involve a patient who is dying. It can often be done for someone who is elderly, or suffering from a disease that renders him/her incapable of handling every day chores. Sometimes we are taking care of a sick child, spouse, sibling, parent, friend or extended family member. Sometimes caregiving involves taking care of someone who will recovery from a major injury.

The patient and the caregiver have completely different agendas, feelings and attitudes. One is sick or injured and may be in the process of dying. The other is tasked with the care of the other, which can include: feeding, bathing, administering medications, dealing with bathing duties, cooking, sanitation, entertainment, changing bandages, enforcing safety within and outside the household and making life-altering decisions.

It’s not easy from either standpoint. The overwhelming daily tasks can often lead to depression in the caregiver, especially if the caregiver has no respite and no help.

“Very depressed today. Cleaned Dad’s kitchen, gave him a bath, housecleaned, got oil changed in the car, did the washing, changed Dad’s bed, house cleaned again.” – an entry from the diary of a caregiver during one week in early 2001 as she cared for her father, who was dying of kidney failure.

The word “depressed” was used at the beginning of every day that week and continued constantly throughout the entire year.

Depression is a common symptom
of caregivers

Tri-County Mental Health Services offers several programs that educate and help caregivers to recognize the symptoms of depression and to know that they are not alone.

“We are trying to approach the whole purpose,” said Becky Franklin, elder care educator for Tri-County Mental Health Services. “We want to raise awareness as to how mental health is an important component in working with our overall health. To teach others to be careful not to neglect their mental health and emotional well-being.”

The complete story is in the Friday, Jan. 27, 2017 Richmond News.

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