'Caregivers' the focus of 6-session course
Bev Petrick said the first key to caregiving is to take care of your own needs so you can be there for the recipient of your care. Petrick, will serve as class leader for "Powerful Tools for Caregivers," a six-session course, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Monday at First English Lutheran Church in Spencer.
The class will focus on reducing stress, improving caregiver confidence, improving communication of questions and feelings, increasing ability to make tough decisions and balancing life priorities concluding on Monday, Feb. 19.
"As we baby boomers get older, we are placed into these situations where we are caregivers for our parents, for a spouse or even for a neighbor," Petrick said. "I hope caregivers learn how to take care of themselves first. The title of our program is 'Powerful Tools for Caregivers.' We are not a support group, but offer ideas. We will line up people they can contact for other services. It is just giving them ideas about how to handle the various situations that arise."
There is no fee for the class, but the book used by the class will cost $30. If a caregiver is unable to afford the book fee, scholarships are available upon request.
Organizers require a minimum of three participants for the class to be conducted. Previously a class was taught in Spirit Lake. It had 12 participants. If the class attracts too many participants for one section, the church will consider opening another section.
"I think the most important attribute for an effective caregiver is the love for that person," Petrick said. "The willingness to give of yourself as much as you can possibly give, but not taking yourself down. You can't make yourself ill or you won't be able to take care of that person. Just a willingness to help and be there. For a spouse, the wedding vows in sickness and in health, people do take that very, very seriously."
To teach the class, Petrick had to go through an intensive two-day training in Fort Dodge. The final project was to present one of the lessons to fellow classmates.
"I recently heard that Spencer has a population that is 55 percent seniors or people of an older age," said Bonnie Kabrick, First English Lutheran director of Christian education. "When you think about that you have tons of people, I know a few in our congregation, who are caring for a sibling or even disabled adults. I certainly see this as a need that we as a church can help address, not only in our own congregation, but also in the community. It is our hope to offer this to the community and have anyone coming into this to be better equipped to take care of others and to take care of themselves."
"Powerful Tools for Caregivers" started in Seattle in 1998 and soon spread nationwide. Lutheran Family Services brought it to the Des Moines area and they trained people to take it into northwest Iowa.
To register, contact First English Lutheran Church at 262-5598.