By: Tami Kolbinger, BS, ADC/MC, CDP, CADDCT
If you are a caregiver, you do not have to do the work alone! Repeat after me, “I am not alone!”
You have help and support. No matter what your journey–or where you may be in this journey, or whom you are caring for on this journey–I want you to know there is help for you and for your family.
But first, I wanted to talk about the word “caregiver.” It sounds one-sided to me, so I prefer the term “care partner” because, after all, you are a partner to the person you are on this journey with! To me, “partner” means we are in this together.
Each care partner relationship–whether a spouse, parent, or child–is special and unique and needs to be nurtured throughout this journey. It’s human nature to want to do everything ourselves, but as a care partner this becomes almost impossible. It is very easy to become overwhelmed and at that point it is time to ask for help. We need to care for ourselves if we want to be here long-term to care for the ones who need us most.
I was a care partner with my father. He was a kind, quiet man who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s shortly after my mother died. At first, I tried to do everything by myself; that is just who I am and I’m guessing many of you reading this blog are the same way. I thought, “No one can do this as well as me!”
But trying to do everyone ourselves is the primary reason those of us caring for our loved ones get burned out, and I quickly realized I was not going to get very far. . We need help for ourselves and for our loved one. But where does this help come from? Do you ask family? Do you seek professional help? Where do you start?
I was blessed to have great family and friends to support me, but sometimes we need to go out of the circle and seek others who have found themselves in similar circumstances.
That’s where caregiver/care partner support groups can be immensely helpful. The most important thing in finding a care group is finding a place where you belong–a place you look forward to going to, a place where you can make a connection, a place you feel safe to tell your story. You may have to check out a few support groups to find the one that is right for you, and that’s okay. And you may want to find a group that offers respite care for your loved one. Each support group has its own focus [such as? Include just a few examples]. Many are places to converse and learn from the experiences of others. Some may also offer education.
Remember: You are the most important person in the life of the one you are caring for! So take care of yourself, find one thing today that is just for you, no matter how small, and hang on to that.
Here are some support groups in Stearns, Sherburne, Wright, and Benton counties in Central Minnesota:
Becker Senior Center
11500 Sherburne Ave
Becker, MN 55308 (Group meets at the Community Center)
Tami Kolbinger, 612-590-2449 firstname.lastname@example.org
Fourth Thursday of the month from 10 to 11
Buffalo Support Group
Zion Lutheran Church
877 Bison Blvd
Buffalo, MN 55313
Laurie Lyngen, 320-841-0662, email@example.com
Every Thursday of the month from 9-10:30
Crow River Senior Center
11800 Town Center Dr NE Ste 200
Saint Michael, MN 55376
Second Thursday of the month from 4:00-6:00
Good Shepherd Caregiver Support Group
Good Shepherd Community, Fellowship Hall
325 11th Street North, Sauk Rapids, MN 56379.
Anna Harren at 320-258-8665 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fourth Thursday of the month from 4:30 to 5:30
Guardian Angels, Elk River
Third Wednesday of the month
Guardian Angels, Albertville—Engel Haus
Second Tuesday of the month (half support/half education)
Elk River Activity Center
413 Proctor Ave NW
Elk River, MN 55330
Annette Bonin, 763-635-4500, email@example.com
Fourth Friday of the month from 1:30-3:00
Great River Faith in Action Caregivers Support Group
Monticello’s Senior Center
505 Walnut Street, Suite 3
Second and fourth Wednesday of the month from 1:30 to 3:00
Whitney Senior Center
1527 Northway Dr
Saint Cloud, MN 56303
Katie Waletzko, 320-290-7863
First Tuesday of the month from 6:30-8:00
Tami Kolbinger, BS, ADC/MC, CDP, CADDCT
Tami has worked on the front lines of dementia care for 10 years in socialization for memory care, assisted living, and long-term care community settings. She is a certified Dementia Practitioner, and a Certified Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Trainer. She is a trained facilitator for the Alzheimer’s Association caregiving support group. She is an active volunteer on the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, the lead for Act on Alzheimer’s in Becker, MN, a regional member of the Act on Alzheimer’s (Central Minnesota) group, and a board member of the Becker Area Senior Center. She was a care partner for her father for five years on his journey with Alzheimer’s disease.
Act on Alzheimer’s : http://www.actonalz.org/supporting-family-and-friend-caregivers
Central Minnesota Council on Aging (Main Site): http://www.cmcoa.org/helppublications.shtml
Central Minnesota Council on Aging (Book—Caregiver Information pages are 18, 19, 20): http://www.cmcoa.org/downloads/2017%20Quick%20Look%20for%20Website.pdf
Alzheimer’s Association: https://www.alz.org/search?searchtext=Caregiver+support
Senior Linkage Line: http://www.seniorlinkageline.com/
Minnesota Board on Aging: http://www.mnaging.org/en/Advisor/Caregiver.aspx
Minnesota Board on Age digital resource guides: http://www.mnaging.org/en/Advisor/~/media/MNAging/Docs/CG-Resources_Booklet.ashx
Minnesota Live Well At Home: www.mnlivewellathome.org
Family Caregiver Alliance: www.caregiver.org https://www.caregiver.org/state-list-views?field_state_tid=82
National Family Caregiver’s Association: www.thefamilycaregiver.org