OSU Extension Nov. webinar is all about caregivers

OSU Extension Nov. webinar is all about caregivers

Caregiving affects us all. Either we’re currently a caregiver, we will become a caregiver or will need one in the future.

If you’d like to learn about caregiver health and resilience, Ohio State University Extension’s aging team is hosting a free webinar series titled Connection Cafe: Caregiving Around the Clock. It is presented each Tuesday from 10-10:30 a.m.

The topics are Stress and Self-Care on Nov. 8, Health and Nutrition on Nov. 15, Nurturing Environments for Positive Care on Nov. 22, and Your Caregiving Plan on Nov. 29.

Sessions are free, but registration is required at wayne.osu.edu/events/connection-cafe-caregiving-around-clock. You will receive log-in information when you register.

If you require an accommodation such as live captioning to participate in this virtual event or need more information, email or call Kathy Tutt at tutt.19@osu.edu or 937-398-7607. Tutt is a family and consumer sciences extension educator in Clark County.

The caregiving role can look different for everyone, Tutt wrote in a blog post. Some people feel being a caregiver makes them feel good about themselves, has taught them new skills and has strengthened their relationship with their loved one. However, many people find themselves in a caregiving role that has a negative impact on their financial, physical and mental health.

There is such a concern for caregivers, Tutt wrote, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refer to caregiving as a public health priority.

Caregivers who experience compassion fatigue can feel hopeless, resentful, less patient and lose empathy, Tutt wrote. They develop a negative view of their caregiving role.

To be a good caregiver, you first need to care for yourself.

The webinar will discuss ways to manage stress and do self-care.

One way to take care of yourself, Tutt wrote, is to have a respite plan. The term respite means to have consistent breaks from your caregiving responsibilities. Respite care can be provided by family, friends or outside agencies, and the services can range widely.

Tutt said caregivers often lack a respite plan because they simply don’t know where to start.

The webinar will address how to develop a respite plan that involves focusing on your strengths. What are the things that have helped you make it through to this point? Is it that you are organized? Is it a sense of humor? Are you flexible?

Once you know your strengths, you can determine your needs. Is it transportation? Could you use help with household chores? Do you just need time away?

It’s important to be specific about those needs, Tutt wrote.

Caregivers also need to eat healthy and exercise regularly to take care of their own health and nutrition.

Additionally, the Caregiving Around the Clock series will address the financial strains of caregiving.

Long-distance caregivers often incur more financial strain due to travel expenses, time off work and the need to hire help, Tutt said. If loved ones are cared for primarily by a close relative, long-distance caregivers might feel additional emotional strain as feelings of guilt for not being more hands-on with the caregiving role.

Long-distance caregivers, however, can take steps to make their situation less of a burden and more fulfilling.

The first step is to develop open communication with all involved. Talking with the primary caregiver, neighbors and healthcare professionals is the best place to start to get a realistic view of what is going on with your loved one, Tutt said.

Once you understand your loved one’s condition, Tutt said, consider what skills you have to offer from a distance such as money management, bill paying and following up on insurance benefits and claims. You also could locate resources and schedule aides and other home care providers.

If you’re good at communicating and researching, you could coordinate the information to all involved in the loved one’s life and care team.

If you have good organization skills, you can play the important role of getting all the paperwork in order. The National Institute on Aging recommends things such as personal and financial records and legal documents be up to date in case of an emergency.

It’s important, Tutt said, to be thoughtful about what best fits you and your loved ones’ needs.

Laurie Sidle is an OSU Extension family and consumer sciences program assistant and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or sidle.31@osu.edu.