Caregiver Support Series
This discussion is led by Alexis Glidewell, MSW, ASW, a Family consultant and Associate Clinical Social Worker at Redwood Caregiver Resource Center. Alexis works one-on-one with family caregivers in multiple counties, providing consultation and education about dementia and caregiver-related challenges. This free series of informational videos covers a different topic every month. See the monthly newsletter to view the current month’s topic. Download current series information.
The Ukiah Senior Center partners with local agencies providing senior support services. One such service, respite and monthly support groups for families caring for loved ones with dementia or Alzheimer’s, is provided through Redwood Caregiver Resource Center. This agency provides monthly support meetings for caregivers in which they can share their individual challenges and find constructive ways to handle their specific situation. They also can provide a few hours of respite for family members to tend to household matters out of the house by providing caregivers to be in their homes.
Alexis Glidewell, MSW, ASW, also conducts this monthly series at the Center, which has been very supportive and informative. Spouses, children of aging parents and volunteer caregivers have attended the series to learn what they can to help themselves be more informed on how to handle certain situations.
Alexis Glidewell says this about the Caregiver Support Series:
“Caring for a loved one with a dementia-related illness is wrought with challenges at any stage of the process. Unique caregiving issues arise out of each stage, in response to the distinctive circumstances and symptoms associated with each stage of the disease. Because folks in the early stages often remain quite competent in certain areas, their cognitive impairment can often seem elusive. Family caregivers often express a feeling that something isn’t quite right with their loved one, but it is frequently difficult for them to put their finger on the problem. Initially, some caregivers try desperately to cover-up for their loved ones to protect them from embarrassment or shame. This usually becomes exhausting very quickly. When caregivers do reach out for help, they may experience difficulty convincing other family members and friends that there is any change in their loved ones. They may also find it difficult to get validation and help from healthcare workers, who may not pick up on the subtle changes within their family member—especially when their loved ones social graces generally remain quite sharp. The very beginnings of the disease process can represent an extremely lonely, frightening, and frustrating time for family caregivers, who absolutely know that they need help and support, but who often do not receive any because the elusiveness of symptoms makes it difficult for others to recognize their daily struggles.
“When symptoms progress a little further, family members and friends often do start to show concern. However, this is usually directed toward the person with the disease and not the family caregiver, whose pain, grief, fear, and sense of being overwhelmed are often overlooked. Family caregivers are statistically at higher risk for stress-related illness, depression and anxiety than their non-caregiving counterparts. Sadly, their health status indicators are often worse than the care recipient’s.
“Although many caregivers report feeling a sense of relief after their loved one is finally diagnosed, the diagnosis can be quite traumatic at the same time. Family caregivers often express feeling overwhelmed by the myriad of new responsibilities, concerns, information, and emotions that seem to hit like a ton of bricks when a loved one is diagnosed. It is vital for family members to gain information about community resources available to support them, education about the disease, and to have their unique experiences validated. Redwood Caregiver Resource Center is glad to have the opportunity to partner with the Ukiah Senior Center to offer caregiver education. It is our hope that these monthly group meetings lay the foundation for continued support and information throughout the caregiving journey.”
Alexis Glidewell, MSW, ASW
Redwood Caregiver Resource Center