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Caregivers Learn to Cope - KOAM TV 7

Caregivers Learn to Cope

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PITTSBURG, KANSAS -

Tens of millions already provide unpaid care to seniors. A number expected to rise with the increasing elderly population. Today, Pitt State hosted a guest speaker who implemented hope and humor while providing care for others. 

4 years ago, Susie Taylor noticed her husband struggling with memory

"It's not bad yet," Taylor said. "I just have to watch him."

She's retired, but practically works full-time watching him. 

"It's gonna go down hill," Taylor said. "But I think if I'm in the right place, that makes things easier for him."

She's front and center listening to Elaine Sanchez, who's workshop tries to help people cope with the emotional stress of caring for someone who's aging, chronically ill, or disabled. Taylor's favorite piece of advice; replacing the word guilt with regret. 

"So I regret that I run out of energy [instead of feel guilty]," Sanchez said. "I regret that I sometimes get angry or upset."

Some students and professionals were attending, but the vast majority of the audience are people taking care of a spouse or family member. Which Sanchez says most are not prepared to do. 

"Taking care of a parent or spouse is totally different from taking care of a patient," Sanchez said. "The different relationship there makes it so much more complicated."

When a caregiver situation is personal, feelings of guilt and regret are common.  Sanchez says understanding a person's affliction, and a strong sense of humor, is the first two building blocks for a healthy transition into care giving. 

"Especially if you're caring for someone who has dementia. Because they do really surprising and outrageous things," Sanchez said. Adding that the caregiver is often forgotten. And giving everyday people the emotional tools to deal with that situation will need to become more of an emphasis. 

"We tend to take all of our time to take care of them. And forget to take care of ourselves," Taylor said. "They're only as good as you are. And if you don't take care of you then how can you take care of them?"

Thursday's workshop was offered as part of the Education for Public Health Grant from the Kansas Health Foundation.

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