Caring for Caregivers

Family caregivers play a critical role in our society. When someone suffers from long-term illness, a debilitating injury, struggles with addiction, has age-related issues, or is perhaps born with challenging issues, more often than not it's an unpaid volunteer family member or friend who cares for 80-90% of their needs. In Alberta alone there are an estimated half million volunteer family caregivers. If these services were paid for, it would cost Canada's health care system as a whole an estimated $9 billion dollars a year (Source: Alberta Caregivers Association)

This role can be very complex. These are the people who:
  • transport the ailing person to appointments 
  • arrange for medical devices
  • pick up prescriptions
  • shop for groceries
  • administer medications
  • maintain the household
  • provide personal care
  • arrange for home care and access to other services
  • look after the bills
  • in many cases, are the advocate for their loved one
  • and much more
They usually have no medical or legal background, yet are faced with the daunting challenges of speaking out for the rights of another. In many cases, they also have to try to fit their own family into the mix and possibly a career on top of that. Unfortunately, in providing all of this care, they often are not taking care of their own needs.

Caregivers often become the patients, and in many cases, they pass away before the loved one for whom they've been caring so diligently. We tend to burn the candle at both ends, getting very little sleep and after awhile we come to believe we only need about 3-4 hours. Not so!   We feel guilty taking time for ourselves. We throw ourselves into the role and neglect our own needs. "Family Caregiver Syndrome" is actually starting to be recognized by the medical system in the US. It is a very high-risk lifestyle, and many are in bad mental, emotional and physical states due to the ongoing stress. With 60-90% of any illness linked to unmanaged stress in the body, there is lower immunity in caregivers and double the risk of depression. Stress can take ten years off your life. 

The good news is, there is help! Walking is the perfect way to deal with all of the stress and anxiety involved in caring for a loved one. The supportive environment of a Walk "Live" Class can't help but lift your spirits, and the social interaction will benefit you mentally. It's a chance to 'walk away' from all of the responsibility - consider it a mini-vacation for an hour a couple of times a week!  In addition, these classes will:
  • help with weight management
  • raise energy levels - physical activity will increase your energy! Energy begets energy!
  • build strong bones and muscles, which are needed for caregivers who are often lifting someone out of chairs, tubs, etc.
  • improve mental strength and brain function
  • release endorphins into your system to improve psychological health and fight off depression
  • provide guilt-free personal time - you're doing this for your loved one - you'll be happier and healthier and better able to care for him/her
  • provide you with something to look forward to - a bright spot in your week
  • become your own special time
  • prevent disease - exercise is medicine!
I would love to chat with you about how our programs can help you be the best caregiver you can be. Let's get a class started in your area or organization!
Call or e-mail Nancy: 403-354-4905