Aegis Lodge of Kirkland recently started a series of caregiver events that aim to help untrained caregivers better provide aid to their elderly relatives.
Aegis scheduled the next event, which will focus on caregiver burnout, for 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Each event will take place at the Aegis Lodge at 12629 116th Ave. N.E. in Kirkland and is free for anyone to attend.
“We’re trying to create awareness of how a healthy caregiver can be so much more beneficial to the seniors,” said Sandra Cook, the regional marketing director at Aegis.
The event will feature refreshments and go over numerous topics that outline the signs of caregiver burnout. Additionally, the event will be led by a local social worker who has extensive experience in the elder-care field.
“As we’re seeing (multiple generations) grow older and tasked with caring for both their children as well as their parents, we want to provide them with the tools they need,” Cook said.
“It’s not like you can just switch and turn it off. You can’t choose not to care for your loved one.”
Caregiver burnout can be dangerous for both the the caregiver and the patient. The role is often filled by a patient’s relative and since it is a constant job, it can take an emotional and physical toll on the caregiver.
“When a caregiver burns out, it causes them to fracture their health,” Cook said. “They may have to go to the hospital and at the end of the day. The person who they’re providing care for may end up in a crisis scenario where they either need to find a temporary caregiver or go to the hospital themselves.”
According to Cook, there are about 43 million caregivers in the United States and while a small amount of them are trained and provide care as a career, most are untrained.
“They just down know when it’s the right time to call for help,” Cook said. “It’s a 24/7 job — especially when you’re caring for someone with a chronic illness or even dementia.”
One of the suggestions Aegis often makes is finding a care center that can provide a brief break for a caregiver. Next week’s event will also educate attendees on multiple other local resources that can help prevent burnout.
The caregiver burnout presentation is one of 25 events that Aegis has planned for the first quarter of 2018. Aegis also plans to hold a monthly event targeted at caregivers with the March event focused on compassion fatigue.
Cook said that while compassion fatigue may seem strange to some, it’s a real issue that can harshly affect someone who is providing unpaid care to a loved one they can’t walk away from.
At another future event, Aegis will educate caregivers on various ways to help loved ones cope with dementia.
“I can’t reiterate enough that this is to educate the community and provide complimentary tools for people who are struggling at home,” Cook said. “The crisis is going to happen and it’s just a matter of when it’s going to happen. (Caregivers) just need to know how to identify that.”