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Powerful tools for caregiving

Research studies find high rates of depression and anxiety among caregivers and increased vulnerability to health problems. Caregivers frequently cite restriction of personal activities and social life as problems. They often feel they have no control over events, and that feeling powerless has a significant negative impact on caregivers' physical and emotional health.

Caregivers care for others who need assistance with daily living and emotional support as they face chronic illness, disability or death. Family caregiver refers to the unpaid individuals who provide all or part of the care. A family caregiver may be a spouse, partner, family member, neighbor, work colleague, or a friend.

The family caregiver may live in or out of the care receiver's household, in the same city, or a long distance away.

Powerful tools for Caregivers (PTC) was developed by Legacy Health System's Caregiver Services Department as a 6-week educational program to provide family caregivers with tools to increase their self-care and confidence as they care for others.

In the six 11/2 hour classes, caregivers develop a wealth of self-care tools to: reduce personal stress; change negative self-talk; communicate their needs to family members and healthcare/service providers; communicate more effectively in challenging situations; recognize the messages in their emotions and deal with difficult feelings; plus make tough caregiving decisions. Class participants also receive a copy of The Caregiver Helpbook developed specifically for this class. Take the first step to help yourself.

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension is presenting Powerful Tools for Caregivers here in McDuffie County.

This six-week series meets for one and a half hours each week: Tuesdays, 1:30 until 3 pm, July 27 --August 31. Class size is limited to 15. Registration deadline: Thursday, July 22. A participation fee of $35 is required and will be accepted on a first-come/first-served basis at the Extension Office, 116 Main Street, Thomson. For more information you may call the Extension Office at 706-595-1815.

In the years since the PTC program was conceived, a great deal of research, evaluation and revision has been done to ensure its continued value and success. The PTC series has been shown to have a positive impact on caregiver health for a diverse group of caregivers including rural, ethnic minorities, adult children of aging parents, well-spouses/partners, caregivers at differing stages in their caregiving role, living situations, financial and educational backgrounds.

Data from class participant evaluations indicates:

- Significant improvement in behaviors: increased exercise, use of relaxation techniques and health self-care

- Improved emotions, including reduced anger, guilt, and depression

- Increased self-efficacy in coping with caregiving demands

- Increased use of community services

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a national program sustained by extensive collaborations with community-based organizations. The program has reached more than 15,000 family caregivers in over 20 states.

Web posted on Thursday, July 15, 2010

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