Often, as we provide care to our senior loved ones, we forget to take care of ourselves. That’s the premise of the Marjorie P. Lee retirement home’s Caregiver Support Group, which usually meets the third Wednesday of each month in the Lee Library.
If you’re a caregiver for your aging parent or for another senior, it may be beneficial to you to know that there is a group of people just like you who can empathize with the challenges you face and lend mutual support.
Let’s take a look at how Marjorie P. Lee’s Caregiver Support Group got started and then delve into ways it could help you.
Cincinnati boasts many caregiver support groups
The support group that meets at Marjorie P. Lee was founded in 2013 by Margaret Ianaci, who was at the time Director of the Caregiver Assistance Network at Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio. There are currently over a dozen similar groups that operate in the Tristate under the auspices of Catholic Charities.
Caregivers who come to the group do not necessarily have to have a relative living in the Marjorie P. Lee retirement home. Attendees at the meetings have included family members of Marjorie P. Lee residents and members of the community at large, said Doug Cutshall, the volunteer who facilitates the group.
And although some caregiver support groups in the area are specific to caregivers lending support for sufferers of a particular disease or condition, the group at Marjorie P. Lee is not. Anyone is welcome to attend.
Small meetings provide opportunities to share and to help others
Attendance generally varies from between three to six caregivers a month, Cutshall reported. Typically, for 15 to 20 minutes per meeting, he will present information on a topic relevant to caregivers and their senior charges. Then the floor opens up and the discussion is taken wherever attendees would have it go.
Conversations can range from covering specific conditions that the caregivers’ relatives are dealing with (cognitive disorders and dementia, hearing loss, cancer, etc.), to tips and strategies for providing better care, such as senior nutrition, wellness and more.
Most important, though, are the discussions that cover issues that caregivers themselves face. Caregiver fatigue, disagreements between adult siblings and other family members, financial issues and legal considerations are all brought up often and discussed at length.
The key, Cutshall said, is to make sure that each caregiver gets a chance to share and ask questions. After he presents on the topic of the day, the remainder of the meeting time is spent “going around the table” and letting each attendee bring up whatever she or he would like to speak about.
How to get involved with the Caregiver Support Group at Marjorie P. Lee
The best way to get involved is to come to a meeting! Come by yourself, or bring other caregivers or friends with you.
Although the group makes an effort to meet each third Wednesday of the month at 3 p.m., but occasionally scheduling conflicts crop up and force a change in plans. Before you come to a meeting, a good rule of thumb is to call the front desk at Marjorie P. Lee, 513-871-2090, to confirm the meeting time.
Cutshall encouraged caregivers to come to at least two or three meetings before deciding whether the group is something to incorporate into their routines, as topics can vary widely and it would be hard to get a good sense of the scope of help available from only one session.
It also gives the other caregivers present a better chance to get to know you and understand your story, so that they’ll know what kind of help they can offer you.
Marjorie P. Lee is located at 3550 Shaw Ave. in Cincinnati, close to the businesses of Hyde Park Square. The Lee Library is located on the first floor.
If you are a caregiver for a senior living in Cincinnati, and you could use support, respite and a sounding board for your thoughts, we’d love to see you at our next Caregiver Support Group meeting.