One year ago, Shore Medical Center opened its Center for Family Caregivers, a place for people who are caring for a loved one to find information and support. In celebration of the first anniversary of the center’s opening and in honor of National Caregiver Month, Shore is bringing attention to the issues faced by family caregivers and celebrating the important role they play.
Lisa DiTroia, director of the Center for Family Caregivers, says many caregivers are so entrenched in the challenges of caring for their loved one that they aren’t caring for themselves. Recognizing their role as a caregiver is an important step in ensuring they’re meeting their own needs as well. Without acknowledging this, caregivers may not be searching for – and finding – the resources available that could make a huge impact in their lives.
“Caregiving can be extremely stressful and all-consuming, especially for those who are also juggling work and family. They are pouring all of their energy into helping their family member, whether it’s scheduling and taking them to appointments, providing direct care or even managing their care from afar,” says DiTroia. “At our center, we offer a starting point – a place where caregivers can learn about and connect to helpful resources and to share the emotions that come with caregiving with our Caregiver Coaches.”
DiTroia says that it’s important for friends and family of caregivers to realize that often, caregivers will not ask for help. Reaching out and offering them help in very concrete ways can really help lighten the burden.
“Many caregivers will not even know how to tell you what they need. However, you don’t have to wait for them to give you an answer. There are many small things you can do that make a surprisingly big impact,” DiTroia says.
Some ideas include:
- Offer to be the liaison to other family members, communicating details about their loved one’s condition to those who reach out.
- Send a text or a card letting them know you’re thinking of them, making it clear you don’t expect a response.
- Make a homemade meal for them in a container they don’t have to return.
- When you’re heading to the grocery store or pharmacy, ask if you can pick up anything for them.
- Let them know if they are having a hard time, that you are there to listen and support them.
If you are a family caregiver or someone who is looking for ways to support a caregiver you know, please contact Shore Medical Center’s Center for Family Caregivers for assistance. Support groups are held on the first Thursday of each month at 2 p.m. in the Center, located on the lower level of Shore Medical Center. The center also offers an Alzheimer’s Association’s Caregiver Support group the second Tuesday of each month at 4 pm.
The Center is open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Caregiver Coaches are available to assist you in person, by phone at 609-653-3969.