As we head into the holidays and gatherings with friends and families, I would like to encourage everyone to listen for signs that a caregiver needs support or a loved one is in need of additional supportive services.
Frequently healthy caregivers end up having major stress induced illness, or even die before the care recipient. This is due to extended strain, burnout, and compassion fatigue, all of which seriously compromise the caregiver’s own health. I have also observed over the years that many people end up dying or going into long term care facilities in January after fighting to hang on through the holidays. Both instances would be excellent opportunities for additional caregiver support. Below are several of my favorite local resources for caregiver support.
I recently met with Cindy Swanson from Caregiver Assurance. I very strongly recommend their program! Caregiver Assurance provides licensed social workers who will listen judgement free, help you find resources, coach you on how to handle situations, etc. 763-586-5825 [email protected]. For more information on this program go to: https://www.fairview.org/services/caregiver-assurance.
Care Options Network helps to identify various services for seniors such as housing options, home care and hospice services, case management, transportation, various providers who specialize in services for seniors, moving, making homes more accessible, medical equipment, day services, local resources, and other services that are available in our area: https://www.careoptionsnetwork.org/
Here is a list of support groups through the MN chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. https://www.alz.org/mnnd/helping_you/support_groups_(1)#Find%20a%20Support%20Group/
The MN Parkinson’s foundation has many resources for those affected by Parkinson’s: https://www.apdaparkinson.org/community/minnesota/local-resources-support/
At the bottom of the page is a list of over 60 support groups for people with Parkinson’s and their caregivers throughout the state!
MN Stroke Association:
An extremely sad and frustrating thing is that hospice and palliative care are seriously underutilized. The national median length of stay on hospice was 23 days in 2017. Individuals qualify for hospice services when they have a prognosis for 6 months or less to live. People can stay on the program for years as long as they continue to meet qualifications. Many people have the misconception that going on hospice is giving up. This is far from the truth. Yes, individuals can no longer participate in treatments with the intention of being cured, however they can still continue treatments for pain and symptom management. Many people find that their quality of life in their remaining time is dramatically better on hospice care since they have a care team that specializes in pain and symptom management and understands and can address their holistic needs at end of life. Rather than spending their remaining time suffering, patients and their loved ones are able to spend quality time together and to have the closure they desire. The number one comment we receive from families who utilize hospice services is “I wish I had started hospice services sooner”. Hospice services are 100% free. The benefits of music therapy in hospice and palliative care will be the topic of an upcoming blog post this December.
The Minnesota Network of Hospice and Palliative Care:
More information about what palliative care is:
More information about what hospice care is:
Music therapy is another excellent resource for individuals and their loved ones. Music therapists work with any population of people with special needs. Living Spirit Therapy Services, LLC is a private practice in music therapy that provides services in home (where ever home is: private home, nursing home, residential home, assisted living…). Living Spirit Therapy Services specializes in providing music therapy services for those in hospice care (we also serve individuals who will be appropriate for hospice soon or recently graduated from hospice care), with neurologic issues such as Parkinson’s or stroke, with dementia, or in need of hand therapy due to arthritis or other conditions.
To learn more about music therapy visit:
Remember through this busy holiday season to give yourself permission to take care of yourselves! It’s ok to say no, to ask for help, and/or to find simpler ways to do things. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourselves first! One last piece of advice through this busy season… take a few moments every day for gratitude. Actually, write down the things you are grateful for and thank those in your life who make a difference.
Thank you for taking the time to educate yourselves on some of the resources available for caregivers and their loved ones, and for the difference you make in the lives of those you touch!