09/21/04 — Red Cross offers new course for caregivers

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Red Cross offers new course for caregivers

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on September 21, 2004 2:02 PM

Those caring for a loved one in their home have an especially difficult task. To make that task a little easier, the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross is offering a new program -- the "Family Caregiving Course."

Cindy Umstead, health and safety director, said anyone who is a caregiver may take the course. She said statistics show that the average caregiver is a 46-year-old woman with either a part-time or full-time job.

The course consists of nine separate modules:

*Home safety -- to help caregivers provide a safe environment for themselves and the person in their care.

*General caregiving skills -- to help caregivers measure their loved one's vital signs such as pulse, respiration and body temperature and give them information on how to assist with medicines.

*Positioning and helping your loved one move -- to help caregivers safely position and help their loved one.

*Assisting with personal care -- to help caregivers help their loved one with personal care such as bathing and grooming.

*Healthy eating -- to help caregivers learn about good nutrition and help their loved one eat properly.

*Caring for the caregiver -- to help caregivers care for their own health while caring for a loved one.

*Legal and financial issues -- to inform caregivers about legal and financial issues that affect them and the loved one for whom they care.

*Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's disease or dementia -- to inform caregivers how to care for a person with Alzheimer's disease or dementia and how to handle common behaviors associated with the disease.

*Caring for a loved one with HIV/AIDS -- to help caregivers care for a loved one with HIV/AIDS and teach them the symptoms that may occur and how to provide emotional support.

Mrs. Umstead said each module is about an hour long and can be done in any order.

It can be a home study program or the various modules may be done in a classroom setting. Mrs. Umstead said this is to accommodate caregivers who also work outside the home who may not have the time to go to a group setting.

How will it benefit caregivers?

"The different modules will hopefully aid them in being able to handle the difficult situations that sometimes they are placed in," said Mrs. Umstead. "Taking care of themselves as a caregiver is one important aspect of caregiving that probably gets ignored the most."

Each person taking the course gets nine booklets to keep.

The first step in getting the program off the ground is finding leaders for the nine modules, said Mrs. Umstead. For example, a lawyer would be a good leader for the module on legal and financial issues.

Mrs. Umstead said other leaders could be a doctor, a licensed social worker or a licensed or registered nurse, a licensed practical nurse, a licensed vocational nurse, a certified or licensed occupational or physical therapist, a certified nursing assistant or a Red Cross instructor.

All a leader has to do is take the general information, read through it and present it.

Mrs. Umstead stressed that leaders don't have to be certified Red Cross instructors as long as their background or current job relates to a module.

"We want leaders to be able to offer the modules in a group session for people who do have the time to come and spend a couple hours in a classroom," she said.

"I think it will be very beneficial to this community because more and more people are having to take on the responsibility of caring for a loved one," said Mrs. Umstead.