Caregivers need support, too; resources can help with stress, needs

Published: Thursday, Nov. 15 2012 7:00 p.m. MST

Some of the most common needs of caregivers include simple requests, such as that of time alone, help with laundry or opportunities for stress relief. Nelson said engaging the whole family with tasks can help, but community resources can prove to be invaluable.

"If you just stay at home by yourself all day and do housework and daily chores, it's tough," Cole said.

She's found the Magna Senior Center to be a great source of respite, as she's allowed to tag along on her mother's membership and participate in classes and other social activities she enjoys.

"It's definitely a highlight," Cole said, adding that they try to attend three or four times each week.

The option of local senior centers, she said, isn't often talked about in caregiver circles, but it is something she can't live without.

Kyle, while forgetful, is still mobile and can feed, dress and toilet herself, making Cole's job somewhat easier, but every day brings new challenges. She said being a caregiver has made her a stronger person.

"I'm stronger in character," Cole said.

She's had to tell her mother "no" for months as doctors removed various medications, and she's learned about nutritional needs, acting as her mother's dietitian. She's also had to draw boundaries between her siblings and their mother's money, and become Kyle's guardian conservator.

Dealing with the rest of the family, Cole said, is probably the most stressful part. She just wants the best for her mother and for everyone else "to take a turn."

"They don't get to enjoy her sweet spirit," Cole said. "They're missing out on so much with her. She's not going to be around forever."

E-mail: wleonard@desnews.com, Twitter: wendyleonards

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