Olds Caregiver Support Group is not just for people whose loved one has dementia or similar illnesses
olds — Two local residents have found the Elderly Caregiver Support Group to be a source of great strength and recognition and hope that by spreading the word, others will learn about it and benefit from it .
Established in the early 2000s, the group’s aim is to provide support to anyone caring for a friend or loved one.
That friend or loved one may have a chronic illness called dementia. They may be waiting to move into a nursing home or residence, or adjusting to a new life.
Barb Wichopen found herself in such a situation when she and her daughter and two sisters moved their 90-year-old mother, who was suffering from dementia, into safe housing. She passed away in mid-October.
The Elderly Caregiver Support Group typically meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 2pm at Royal Canadian Legion Branch #105 (location and times subject to change).
Wichopen has been attending the group’s meetings for about two years.
“I had to wait seven months for a place to open up for my mom, and she really went downhill, especially with COVID-19, and I was just at a loss. ,” Wichopen said in an interview.of Albertan.
“It’s a big responsibility, it’s exhausting, it’s hard. And at the same time, I’m grieving my mother’s death because I knew her. And my journey has been mother and daughter.” she said.
“From social outings to daily activities, everything is centered around the need to provide care and keep the person safe.”
Wichopen learned about the support group from a sign in a local store, and it became a life-changing opportunity for her.
“What was so valuable about the carer support group was that they were so compassionate and gave really good advice,” she said.
Wichopen was filled with some difficult fears and emotions. For example, that she was locking up her mother, or that her actions could inadvertently push her mother deeper into dementia.
“We received very professional and wise advice,” Wichopen said, noting that the group is facilitated by Cindy Andrus, a continuing care counselor with Alberta Health Services.
“She was able to make me understand that my mom’s appearance, symptoms and patterns really needed that care today.
“And she also reminded me that when a loved one agrees to receive care, we’re not doing it to them, we’re doing it for them. .
“We’re doing this for them. It’s about making sure they’re safe, that they’re being professionally cared for, that they’re being cared for by a team of people who know and understand this disease, and that people are being treated in a professional capacity.” so that they can be cared for,” Wichopen said. .
“They know how to take care of themselves in a completely different way than I could as a daughter.”
In doing so, these staff can provide relief to caregivers like Wichopen, who are completely exhausted physically and mentally from caring for their friends and loved ones.
Wichopen said another important aspect of the group is that everything said within the group is confidential.
“Some people don’t want others to know they’re going because they’re embarrassed to say they need support or help,” she says.
“So it’s completely confidential, it’s compassionate, you get information, you get facts, you get medical information.”
Mary Devolin helped start the Caregivers Group with Andrus around 2010.
“My husband was in the hospital and had Parkinson’s disease and had to be placed in a care center. But at the time there was no organization to support caregivers as a group,” Devolin said. .
“It was a question of being able to understand what I was going through, deal with it, and deal with it. And I learned that I wasn’t alone. There were other people out there who needed help. ” she added.
“It definitely helped me and still helps me. It opened my eyes to a different side of life for older people. People are trying to cope on their own. And it’s also very difficult.”
Mr Devolin said elder carer support groups vary in size but typically range from 10 to 12 people. men and women.
Devolin stressed that the support group is not just for people whose loved ones have dementia or similar illnesses.
This is for anyone who needs the support of a caregiver, including loved ones suffering from illnesses such as cancer.
Devolin volunteers two to three days a week at Olds Hospital and Care Center and works with a Parkinson’s disease support group.
“Everyone in the group needs each other’s support,” she said.
“It helps people deal with their own stress,” she said. “If you keep it inside, it eats away at you.”
This group provides advice to participants on where and how to get help.
“This is a really long journey and it’s a maze to figure out which department you need to contact and how to fill out the forms,” Wichopen said.
“‘Where can I go? Home care? Where can I find out how to apply for financial assistance?’ Because some of these people can’t work anymore,” Devolin said. Ta.
“Most of them can’t do that because they’re sick or they’re caring for someone.”
Devolin gave the example of a wife caring for her husband.
“He is the breadwinner and she has never worked, but she takes care of him.”
Wichopen said people as young as 40 could need care and support.
“In your 40s, just when you think you’re starting to settle into your career and start looking forward to retirement, a sudden illness, stroke, accident or accident happens and you suddenly become a caregiver,” she said.
“It’s important that people come together in groups. It’s a sad group, but it’s also a happy group,” Devolin said. “It’s a group where you can laugh and share. And laughing today is very important.”