A Sauk County program is reaching out to offer help for caregivers, especially those who don’t even know they qualify.
The local Aging and Disability Resource Center is offering a six-week workshop called Powerful Tools for Caregivers. The program helps people who care for loved ones also focus on caring for themselves.
“Caregivers get burned out,” said Susan Blodgett, director of the ADRC office in Baraboo. “That’s a stressful job.”
The workshop will be offered Thursday mornings in Reedsburg and afternoons in Sauk City in April and May. The workshop was first offered in Baraboo last summer. Nine women participated, creating a bond that led them to create a caregiver support group for sharing frustrations and suggestions.
“All of a sudden, they were connected to someone else,” Blodgett said.
The program is offered through the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging. It helps caregivers address issues such as handling family members and processing guilt.
It broadly defines the term “caregiver,” applying it not only to those who provide daylong care, but also to those who help with tasks here and there, such as paying bills and serving lunches. Caregivers include those who help parents or spouses who suffer from dementia, as well as grandparents raising grandchildren.
“We think there’s an awful lot of people who don’t look at themselves as a caregiver,” Blodgett said.
Workshop participants will learn how to reduce stress, communicate feelings and locate resources. Blodgett and resource center staffer Jim Pritzkow will help caregivers navigate the challenges of assisting a loved one while also juggling careers and their own households. Enrollment is open, and help with respite care is available.
Blodgett said caregivers play a crucial role in promoting seniors’ independence and helping them save costs associated with senior living care.
“I don’t know what we’d do without these family caregivers,” Blodgett said. “I don’t know what would happen to these folks who need support.”
There is strength in numbers, and power in having coping tools at hand. “All of a sudden, you don’t feel like the Lone Ranger,” Blodgett said.