Powerful Tools for Caregivers to be Presented March 23rd

North Shore Elder Services in collaboration with Pondview Adult Day Health will be offering “Powerful Tools for Caregivers” in Lynn.

1.  What is Powerful Tools for Caregivers?

This program is a six part educational series designed to assist those who are caring for a relative or friend. Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a national program based on the highly successful Chronic Disease Self-Management Program developed at Stanford University.

2.  What topics does Powerful Tools for Caregivers cover?

In the six weekly classes, caregivers develop a wealth of self-care tools to; reduce stress and relax; communicate effectively with family members, doctors, and service providers; reduce guilt, anger and depression; make tough decisions; and set goals and problem solve.

3.  How can Powerful Tools for Caregivers benefit caregivers?

To answer that we asked Charlotte Jackson of Peabody, who is a long time caregiver to her husband and who completed the program, to share her insights. “People feel very guilty as caregivers.  I think the program reinforces the importance of taking care of yourself and taking time for yourself.  I know if I didn’t take time for me, I would resent being a caregiver.  We are fortunate to have so much help in this area.  People need to get educated and go to workshops to learn from others so that they can keep doing this job.  When you are with others who have similar problems, you will not feel so alone.”

Charlotte added that, “Unless you have the tools to redirect someone who has dementia, you will always battle dementia. I understand that my husband can’t come into my world anymore; I have to go into his.  Recently I handed him a pear to eat and walked out of the room.  When I came back to him he was coloring the pear.  I realized he no longer understood that it was something to eat.  I took the pear from him, cut it up and put it on a plate and then he knew what he was to do with it.  Everyday there is a lesson learned.”

Although Powerful Tools for Caregivers does not focus on specific diseases (like Alzheimer’s), it is very often the symptom of dementia that many caregivers are commonly dealing with.

4.  Who is leading the Program?

Kathy Perrella, Options Program Manager, recently celebrated her twenty-five year anniversary working for North Shore Elder Services. As a trained leader in Powerful Tools for Caregivers, she has led several sessions of the program and will conduct the upcoming March session with Desiree Michaud of Pondview Lodge Adult Day Program in Lynn.

Kathy sees the most valuable asset to the program being an opportunity for caregivers to change the way they do things. “Sometimes caregivers are so overwhelmed they are just going through the motions; they haven’t set aside time to explore new techniques that could be helpful.”

“I think the program can be empowering for caregivers. It gives hope and confidence to try something new, to experiment, which could lead to being a stronger caregiver, one with more tools from which to draw.  Just setting time aside to talk about yourself is helpful.  You’ll learn you aren’t alone and you’ll meet other caregivers.”

Pat McMahan, a thirteen year employee at North Shore Elder Services, and an Options Advisor, has also been trained as a Powerful Tools for Caregivers leader. She adds, “Coming up with an Action Plan is the most dynamic tool to use.  It can be as simple as choosing one thing to set as a goal and working to resolve it.  It’s a very concrete tool to help the caregiver refocus and make changes.”

Perrella pointed out that an extra benefit to the program being held at Pondview is that there will be free on-site respite provided. The caregiver can bring his/her loved one who will be cared for by trained staff and be able to access a variety of onsite activities. “It gives people a chance to see how someone does in a day care situation.”  Perrella referred to a participant in a recent session who as a result of seeing how much her husband benefitted from the respite program enrolled him in a day program after completion of Powerful Tools for Caregivers.

5.  When and Where is Powerful Tools for Caregivers being offered?

The next program begins Wednesday March 23 and runs through to April 26. The times are 12:00pm – 2:00pm. Pre-registration is required and the program is FREE.  Pondview Lodge Adult Day Program is located at 112 Kernwood Drive in Lynn, MA.  To register or learn more, contact Desiree Michaud at 781-309-5556 or dmichaud@elderservices.com OR contact Kathy Perrella at 978-624-2214 or kperrella@nselder.org.

*Along with the free on-site respite, Pondview will provide lunch to all.

Author Info

Jayne Girodat

Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at North Shore Elder Services. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne's background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. "I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you'll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to North Shore Elder Services' audience."

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