Anticipating Issues: Powerful Tools for Caregivers

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Donna Donald is an ISU Extension family life program specialist working with Powerful Tools for Caregivers. Through this program, ISU Extension and Outreach educates caregivers so they can take better care of themselves and provide better care to their loved ones. Donna says:

When we define a family caregiver, we define it pretty broadly. Caregiving can be done, as in, somebody lives in your home, or perhaps mom is in a care center an hour away. You still are a person helping to see that they are receiving the care they need — and that makes you a caregiver.

ISU Extension and Outreach has worked with the aging population off and on over the years, but the emerging issue … is working with the caregiver population. So we have chosen to embrace the Powerful Tools for Caregivers national program. It’s intended to help people develop skills and tools so they can thrive in their role as a caregiver and not just survive. We want them to be able to have a good life, a happy life; and that, in turn, will make them a much better caregiver.

We now have over 80 people trained to deliver the program. It’s in over a third of the counties and we are growing very rapidly. The people that we are training to deliver the program are volunteers in the community, some of them are professionals, many of them have or are currently living the life of a caregiver, and they certainly all have a passion for what this means for families.

Current caregivers explain some of the things they’ve learned from the program.

Kimberly Cooper says:

I think that Powerful Tools for Caregivers is very powerful because it teaches you how to take care of yourself so you can take care of somebody else.

Joan Nydle says:

Being able to cover all of the things with both of my parents — learning how to communicate those needs in a positive way with my siblings — has been very important to learn.

Linda Richardson says:

I don’t get angry at my mom; I get frustrated because my mom has to go through this. It’s OK to feel guilty, but also understand why you’re feeling guilty and go beyond that.

Jaleyn Dobbs says:

One of the things that they have taught us, and will be helpful to me in my caregiving life and also in my family life, is just the communication. Using an “I” message — “I’m frustrated. I’m hurt.” There are times when I have to talk to my sisters and explain what’s happening. They don’t always understand, because they’re far away. When I can impress upon them that I’m doing the best I can … with the situation, then I think that will help them and me, also, and ultimately my mother, which is very important.

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