Cassville Senior Center will hold stress busting program
Waters: ‘Never give up’
The Cassville Senior Center, along with Senior Age, are working together to bring a stress busting class to Cassville to help caregivers with the stress in their lives while caring for family members with Alzheimer’s or other related dementias.
Sherry Waters, Senior Age wellness coordinator, said the course is over nine weeks and is aimed to help caregivers cope with stress.
“We started this in February,” she said. “So, this is the second round of classes for Senior Age, but the first time it is being offered in Cassville.”
Waters said the weekly classes are about 1-1/2 hours, during which caregivers are taught relaxation techniques, breathing, meditation and imagery, where the caregiver is encouraged to find their special place, which is their alone time.
“My father had Alzheimer’s, and my mom cared for him for 10 years,” she said. “It is an all-the-time, every-day job, and my mom would get her alone time when my father would play computer games.”
Waters said it is important to keep people with dementia motivated with things to do.
“Eventually, people with dementia withdraw from people and social activities,” she said. “Eventually, this causes the caregiver to withdraw, as well.”
Waters said the Alzheimer’s Association has many great resources available for caregivers and loved ones.
“There is a 1-800 number that caregivers can call 24/7,” she said. “They have people available to talk to during a crisis or emotional time.”
Waters said the course helps to teach the caregivers how to cope and manage stress, but also how to work with the loved one they are caring for.
“Humor is a great tool for managing stress,” she said. “We use coloring, as well.
“We teach the caregivers that the colors mean emotions, so you can see how that person is feeling based on the colors they are using.”
Waters said an added benefit to the course is the connection caregivers get to other people.
“The class allows the caregiver to open up about their lives and stresses without their loved one there,” she said. “At the end of the nine weeks, we see that a lot of caregivers don’t want to stop the course, so we suggest a support group.”
Waters said there isn’t a support group currently in Cassville, but there is one in Monett available.
“A volunteer from the Alzheimer’s Association is needed,” she said. “But, they can do the training online, then they can talk to the caregivers.”
Waters said another important part of the course is realizing the caregiver’s loss.
“They have lost the person that they talked to or did things with,” she said. “It can also be an economical loss, due to losing part of their income.”
Waters said she wants to stress to the caregivers that a big part of healing and coping is positive thinking and taking time for themselves.
“Once or twice a week, just get out and do something by yourself,” she said. “Other things that help are journaling and aroma therapy.”
Waters said everyone is different so they require different relaxation techniques.
“The key is finding what works for you,” she said. “I also suggest eating healthy and exercising.”
Waters said that exercising is important for the caregiver and the loved one.
“Exercising the body and mind both can be a huge benefit for both,” she said. “And when that is done together, it can strengthen the relationship between them.”
Waters said she has learned that the loved one and the caregiver both need structure in their lives, and especially the loved one.
“Every individual case is different,” she said. “Find something that is habitual for the loved one, and never give up.”
Waters said the caregiver may have to reintroduce the same thing, just differently.
“Also, using distractions help,” she said. “When the loved ones have it in their heads that they want to do something, for example, that they need to buy a Christmas present in May, distracting them will usually help rather than arguing.”
Waters said she has worked in this field for 38 years.
“I have always been interested in the wellness of people,” she said. “I also have personal experiences that helped push me into this.
“I just want to help people understand and learn about Alzheimer’s.”
Waters said there are 36 senior centers in a 17-county area with which Senior Age has partnered.
“Our goal is to provide information to people who don’t know about Alzheimer’s or other dementias,” she said. “Early detection is key to treatment. It won’t stop the progression, but medications can help slow it down.”
Waters said she also works to inform people about the signs of Alzheimer’s.
“If a loved one can no longer perform routine daily tasks, like brushing their teeth or getting dressed, that is a sign,” she said. “Also, loved ones who forget information that they have just learned are showing a sign.”
Waters said the course is for caregivers who are 60-plus years in age.
The class will be free and held at the Cassville Senior Center, starting on May 7 at 9:30 a.m.
Also, there will be courses held in Monett and Aurora for the stress buster class. For Monett, the class will be on Mondays starting May 6 from 9:30-11 a.m. For Aurora, the class will be on Mondays starting May 6 from 12:30-2 p.m.
For more information, or to register for the Cassville program, people may call Kristina Atwood at 417-847-4510.