PUBLISHED NOV. 3, 2016
By PHYLLIS HODGES
So often we hear: You can’t help others if you don’t take care of yourself. … and we all know that caregivers in general are under extreme stress on a daily basis. Health professionals tell us the first line of defense in maintaining your health (and sanity) is education and un
derstanding, but you also need to use available support services.
In this area, we are fortunate to have so many resources that can provide guidance for navigating various situations. Educational sessions geared to help those already thrust into a caregiving role — or who want to prepare for that eventuality — can be extremely helpful. Such an event is coming up on Nov. 15 at Sun City Center Community Hall from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is free and includes lunch.
Sun Towers has assembled five professionals to speak at the Caregiver Symposium for Brain Health. The presentations include: Brain training update from “Brain HQ” (USF Cognitive Aging Labs); current trends in management and advancements in research (Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute); Brain Health Balance for Life (Brain Fitness Club); “Music on the Brain” (Arts Health Institute); and “Leaving a Lasting Legacy” (Ameriprise Financial Services).
Mrs. D has attended many of the sessions sponsored by Sun Towers, Senior Helpers and Alzheimer’s Association since her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 13 years ago. “These sessions are phenomenal,” she said. “I’ve learned what to expect and how to deal with it.” She is grateful to these organizations for their help over the years.
Noreen Kurth, who is fairly new to SCC and has a mother with dementia, echoes the value of educational sessions, as well as information about support services. She said she appreciates being taught how her mom’s brain is now working. “In the beginning, I thought Mom was just being difficult when she started saying, ‘I can’t remember.’ Now I am more patient, and know better how to talk to her. I just wish more people knew how sessions like the one coming up can [could] help.”
If you are a caregiver now for someone who cannot be left alone, you may be asking yourself: How can I possibly get away for six hours? The sponsors have thought of that. Scott Fox, who owns the local franchise Senior Helpers, is offering free care during the symposium by members of his team. “I work closely with Sun Towers on events such as this because I believe strongly that education and resources are essential for caregivers. Professionals can guide them through the maze of decisions they face every day,” he said. “During the symposium, activities for those entrusted to our care will be customized to individual needs.”
Sun Towers Director of Admissions Debbie Caneen said that the Nov. 15 gathering is going to be an important day with dynamic speakers who share her feeling that knowledge is power. “There is a great need for events like this to provide information to caregivers who have been in that role for awhile and also to those, like me, who are just starting their journey. I am excited to learn about the advancements in research and what might be available for brain health in the future.”
Reservations for the symposium must be made by Friday, Nov. 11. Call Debbie Caneen at Sun Towers 813-892-2990. Senior Helpers also needs to know if you need them to care for your loved one so they can plan properly. For that, call Scott Fox at 813-677-1400.