Caregivers need care, too
SHELBURNE — Those who care for the sick or elderly become good at seeing signs of stress in the person cared for, but tend to ignore their own “warning signs,” says Sue Pratt.
“Caregivers so often fall into feeling feelings that we are afraid to share.” She said caregivers are afraid to express their feelings of frustration or exhaustion, because “we’re the healthy ones — we shouldn’t be complaining,” she explained.
“But a big piece of caregiving is taking time for yourself, recognizing that you are part of the equation; and identifying your own signs and sources of stress will make you a more effective caregiver,” said Pratt.
Pratt and Tricia Zoly, coordinators of the Tripp Community Care Collaborative, are offering a six-week educational program called “Powerful Tools for Caregivers,” which is designed to help family caregivers reduce stress, improve self-confidence, balance their lives and increase their ability to make tough decisions and find helpful resources.
The Tripp collaborative is an organization that trains home health care workers through Greenfield Community College. In 1998, Pratt and Zoly founded Collective Home Care Inc.
Pratt said that most people become caregivers at a time of crisis, gradually shouldering increasing responsibilities. The program is intended to teach participants how to identify their own needs, make time for themselves, and to learn ways to reduce stress.
The classes, which are free to participants, take place on Fridays for six weeks, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. starting on Oct. 12.
The program is supported by a Title III grant provided by the Franklin County Home Care Inc. and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs. A similar class is to be held in Deerfield.
Because class size is limited, preregistration is required. To register, call Jackie Stanford at the Shelburne Senior Center, at 625-2502.