‘Powerful Tools for Caregivers’ workshop to begin June 15

Participants help lead the discussion in the Powerful Tools for Caregiver workshop. (Courtesy photo)

BIG RAPIDS — An upcoming workshop is designed to give caregivers the tools they need to deal with the stress and challenges of their role in order to better care for not only the person they’re helping but themselves, as well.

The workshop, offered free of charge for six weeks by Michigan State University Extension, will cover reducing stress; effective communication; reducing guilt, anger and depression; problem-solving; and self-care, among other topics.

“Sometimes, caregivers’ health declines faster than the recipient of their care,” said Pamela Daniels, MSUE health and nutrition educator, in an earlier interview. “This workshop is based on a community health gap need that came to Extension.”

Caregivers don’t have to live with the individual or perform services full-time to be caregivers.

“A caregiver is anyone who provides care for another person in need, such as a child, an aging parent, a husband or wife, a relative, friend, or neighbor,” states womenshealth.gov. The website also indicates most caregivers are women and three in five have paid jobs in addition to the services they provide.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a research-based program offered nationwide. The upcoming MSUE class will meet from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for six weeks on Friday at Michigan State University Extension, 14485 Northland Drive, Big Rapids. The group will meet on June 15, 22, 29, July 6, 13 and 20.

To register for the workshop, interested participants should call Lisa Baker at (231) 592-0792. Pre-registration is mandatory for planning purposes, Daniels said. The sessions are open to anyone who is currently a caregiver or anticipates they may become a caregiver in the future.

“We do this in a group setting, and the people are fabulous,” Daniels said. “They share amazing stories and relate with one another instantly.”

Sessions focus on providing caregivers strategies to make their lives easier, including ways to allow others to help.

“We talk a lot about giving people tools to ask for what they need,” Daniels said. “We teach them how to ask for what they want.”

“People who don’t feel they can be the one-on-one caregiver can mow the lawn or pick up eggs and milk at the grocery store,” added Shannon Lindquist, MSUE social emotional health educator, in a previous interview.

Daniels also suggested people who aren’t caregivers themselves but know someone who is may want to consider offering to stay with the care recipient to allow the caregiver to attend the workshops. She also suggested employers would benefit from allowing employees to take the time to attend the sessions without loss of pay because better managing the caregiving role would allow employees to be more productive at work.

Participants from a Cadillac class led by Daniels and Lindquist shared positive responses in the form of testimonials for MSUE.

“Before I started these classes, I felt like I was drowning. … But these classes have been such a live-saver for me, to know that there are other people in such a similar situation and to have more realistic expectations on what I am able to do and take care of myself, too,” wrote Tina Lemby.

Irene Kasbohm also had a positive experience.

“It gave me the tools and words to use to help myself feel better and help get others to understand what I’m going through,” she wrote.

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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