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How are family caregivers making a difference?

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DARTS Chief Operating Officer, Beth Wiggins, writes a weekly, online journal about her experiences as both a social worker specializing in aging and a caregiver for her parents. Here is one of her many "Caring Reflections" journal entries that speaks to the impact of family caregivers:

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Once you start paying attention to your own caregiving experience, you begin to see caregiving everywhere around you. Just in my own small circle of friends, there's a sister watching over her brother who lives with mental illness, a woman supporting the post-surgery days of her partner, a son helping his mother adjust to a recent move, a wife who lovingly hovers around her husband as he re-learns how to walk, and an aunt encouraging a struggling niece while giving respite to her parents.

I spot it in strangers, too. The patient companion with the elder at the grocery store is a caregiver. So is the man in the church parking lot lifting the wheelchair out of the trunk of the car and bringing it around to his waiting passenger. And I'm pretty sure the woman I saw at the pharmacy late at night was a caregiver, too.

Caregiving is everywhere, and thank heaven for that. We humans, quite literally, can't live without it.

- Beth

Upcoming information sessions you might find helpful:

From 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. tonight, Thursday, Nov. 29, Park Ridge of Hastings will host Family Caregiving Strategies. More than ever, families face the practical and emotional challenges of caring for elders. Whether sudden or gradual, these responsibilities can be unfamiliar and overwhelming, particularly for working adults.  Is your family ready?  DARTS Service Coordinator Lynn Cibuzar will help you learn about resources and strategies that can help maintain everyone's dignity and connectedness. Park Ridge of Hastings is located at 901 W. 16th St.

If you would like information about Advance Care Directives or help completing one with your loved one, contact Rev. Peter Morlock, Advanced Care Planning Chaplain at Regina Medical Center. He can be reached by calling 651- 480-4587.

Caring Reflections/Enjoying the Lull

One caregiver's reflections on caring for older loved ones:

We're in a state of calm right now, my parents and I. Nobody is in the midst of a crisis. Doctor visits aren't as frequent as they had been. The cupboards are well-stocked. Ahhhhh.

There are still some to-do's that nag at my psyche, like organizing paperwork so we're better prepared for next year's taxes and orchestrating the various appointments needed to get a new hearing aid. Plus, I know that in a couple of weeks there's another hospitalization on the calendar, another procedure, another recuperation. But for now, the winds are still, and I'm relieved. It's good to notice these things.

(Editor's note: Beth's complete online journal can be found at: http://www.darts1

.org/blog/caring-reflections.

For a resource guide for service providers who can help in your caregiver journey, please stop by the Hastings Senior Center in the Tilden Community Center, or go online to: www.darts1.org/dak

ota-county-eldercare-resour

ces.

If you would like to submit a question or concern about your own caregiving experience, and get direct, one-to-one information and advice from a licensed social worker and eldercare advisor, please visit: www.darts1.org/online

-caregiving-advisor or call 651-455-1560.

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