Being a caregiver has taught me how important it is to develop an emotionally supportive environment so I have someone to share the heartache and joys. Accepting support from others is a gift. You cannot do this alone. The biggest barrier to getting help is to finding just the help you need. Start small, plan for one day at a time.
Caregiving can be a source of joy, love, and a real gift to the person to whom you are providing care. It can also take all the strength and patience you have, leaving you exhausted and isolated. Many find it harder than they ever imagined, yet more rewarding than they initially thought. Accepting support from others and building a support network is the key to dealing with the negatives and appreciating the positives.
Alone, caregiving can be an exhausting job but the good news is that there is help available through Orange County Department on Aging. The staff is knowledgeable and understanding, and they are dedicated to helping you find the resources and support you need.
In addition to being a caregiver, I am the social worker on staff at Orange County Department on Aging, specializing in dementia and caregiver support. Therefore, much of my day is focused on helping caregivers learn strategies for coping with their responsibilities and where to find external supports when needed.
We provide numerous support groups at both senior centers (Seymour Center in Chapel Hill and the Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough). For many of the support group sessions, caregivers can arrange supervision for their loved one. To learn more about our support groups, please visit the Orange County Department on Aging website http://www.orangecountync.gov/departments/aging/index.php or call our Aging Transitions Helpline at 919.968.2070, Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. You may also stop by one of our two senior centers, Central Orange Senior Center in Hillsborough and Seymour Center in Chapel Hill, to pick up the latest edition of the Senior Times to discover the many programs, services, and support available.
In addition to our support groups, the Seymour Center hosts a free Caregiver’s Day Out program on Wednesdays, from 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. A snack and lunch are provided, along with structured activities, exercise and socialization. Caregivers can feel free to enjoy some time to themselves or to get some things done, while their loved one is well cared for at the Seymour Center. For more information about Caregiver’s Day Out, call Carolyn Jefferson, Caregiver Day Out Coordinator, at 919-929-1742.
Call the Aging Transitions Helpline at 919-968-2087 today to find the help and support you need.
Pam Tillett holds a Master’s of Social Work and is currently a staff social worker at Orange County Department on Aging specializing in dementia and caregiver support.