In October 2020, I moved from my family and home in Tennessee to care for my father in Granite City. My mother passed away in September 2020, and she had been his caregiver. Dad was diagnosed about six years ago with dementia, probably Alzheimer’s, like his sister and mother. I was suddenly thrust into a new state, a new status, and away from my support system. My wonderful Hospice bereavement counselor told me about St. John’s Community Care and suggested that I might benefit from a class she had received a flyer about.
In February 2021, I started taking the Savvy Caregiver’s class. I began to learn more about my dad’s diagnosis as well as the progression of the disease. We touched on important coping skills for caregivers involving daily living with a loved one with dementia. For me, the benefit of receiving the class materials for free was a blessing. It was also a tremendous benefit of engaging with other caregivers and asking the staff ALL of my questions as we went through the handbook. I was directed to other community resources that I would have never known about otherwise.
I am currently enrolled in the Stress-Busting for Caregivers class through St. John’s Community Care. Although we are only beginning Chapter 3, I am already noticing a reduction in my stress level! The first class was about breathing, which everyone should know how to do, right? But the stressful caregiving situations, I tend to tense up, breathe shallower, and not relax in the exhale. I am learning new skills that I can practice each day throughout the week. I can also email the facilitators any questions I have during the week, and they are prompt to get back to me. We have a lovely group of students, and I think we all have adequate time to ask questions and offer each other support.
Emotionally, caregiving is HARD WORK. I would not be able to do this without my deep faith in the Lord and St. John’s Community Care classes and resources.