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Upcoming caregivers classes to offer ‘powerful tools’

By Staff | May 5, 2012

Lee Memorial Health System is hosting an educational series to provide caregivers with the tools needed to take care of themselves.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a six-session course that will take place Tuesdays, May 15 through June 19, from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Lake Kennedy Senior Center. As of Friday, there were eight spots left in the course.

“We limit it to 15,” Danielle Musteffe, the care program coordinator for LMHS, said. “We do several series a year. We cover four counties.”

The deadline to register for the course is May 11.

“It’s very important for caregivers to take care of their own health and reach out for help and support as early on as possible in the care giving situation, so that they can be knowledgeable about all of the resources that are available to them in this community,” she said.

Studies show that caregivers have a higher incidence of stress.

“The caregivers are the ones that are getting ill – their health starts to fail,” Musteffe said. “They give up all of these facets of their life that they once had to care for their loved one.”

The course teaches family caregivers how to reduce stress, improve self-confidence, communicate their feelings better, balance their lives, increase their ability to make tough decisions and find resources in the community.

“The program is designed to help caregivers take care of themselves while taking care of their loved one,” she said.

Two experienced class leaders conduct the series, and interactive lessons, discussions and brainstorming help attendees learn to apply what is learned.

Participants will receive “The Caregiver Helpbook,” which was specifically designed for the course. Topics covered range from hiring in-home help and making legal and financial decisions, to working on care facility placement.

A donation of $25 is suggested to help defray the cost of the book.

However, the donation is not required to attend the class.

“The classes are free,” Musteffe said. “We don’t turn anyone away.”

The demographics of the participants is “a mix.”

“There’s people caring for a parent, a spouse, a friend or neighbor,” she said. “We’re not disease specific – it’s for all caregivers.”

Upon completing the course, a change can be seen in the attendees.

“Many of them will say, ‘I realize that I’m not alone anymore,'” Musteffe said.

“Just talking about their feelings with others helps them manage their stress better,” she said.

The course is funded by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and Senior Choices of Southwest Florida, in collaboration with the health system.

For more information or to register, call 343-2751.

Lake Kennedy Senior Center is at 400 Santa Barbara Blvd.