Looking out for caregivers in Austin
Culturally, this is what you do. You keep your parents at home.”
According to Michelle Jacques, member of Austin’s newly formed
caregiver support group, Comité d’action Sentinelles d’austin (CASA), some people fall into the role of a caregiver because they have no other choice; others volunteer with open arms.
“The path is pretty much the same,” she said.
CASA will hold an outreach activity on Nov.7 (the middle of National Caregiver Week) with workshops, discussion groups and activities geared towards helping caregivers look after themselves so that they can help their loved ones.
All five members of CASA are either active or former caregivers. According to Jacques, the committee was formed so that the members could share what they learned through their experiences with others in a similar position.
Jacques was a caregiver to her mother and father as well as her mother-in-law.
“They didn’t just die overnight,” she said, explaining that the process was long and required a lot of support.
Throughout the experience, Jacques discovered the importance of being a caregiver. “The presence there was essential; it was soothing,” she said, to be by her loved ones at such a difficult time.
She decided that in order to help, she wanted to do it properly.
Jacques underwent training to become a certified palliative care volunteer. While living in Pierrefonds, she volunteered at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal working with the Hope and Cope team, which helped patients Volunteers, international students, and Grace Village residents worked hand in hand on Saturday to make 500 apple pies for the Grace Village fundraiser. They will be making 500 more pies next Saturday, which will be available for purchase from noon to 2 p.m. at the Village. The pies will be sold in advance at the price of $12 per unit or $50 for five pies. They can be ordered online at https://squareup.com/store/klinckfoundation, either by debit or credit card. Those who wish to purchase pies in cash can also contact Emma Muise at firstname.lastname@example.org.
through all phases of an illness; from diagnosis, to end-of-life, to bereavement for family.
She has since moved to Austin, and continued volunteering at the Magog Hospital, Aube Lumière and Hôtel Dieu in Sherbooke.
Jacques underwent additional training to become a therapist for psychosocial interventions, to help with the stress of loss, grief and uncertainty.
Jacques and the other CASA members want to pass on what they have learned to offer support to local caregivers.
“We don’t do things for them. We help them; we teach problem-solving skills so they are not overly burdened, and we help them maximize the resources available around them,” she said.
According to Jacques, both a caregiver and a patient are under tremendous stress. In addition to the challenges of a debilitating illness, some patients feel like they are a burden on their family. Caregivers can often feel guilty for taking time away from their loved one, which can lead to burnout and a loss of identity.
“Caregivers can become sick,” Jacques pointed out.
“As you are going through this, you are an individual,” she said, “You have to look after yourself so your own personal needs are taken care of.”
While many caregivers are retired helping a partner or family member, there are situations where there are people in their 40s or 50s with exciting careers who suddenly drop everything for a loved one. After months, sometimes years, they surface at the end of the process alone, older. Their social circles have changed.
“They don’t know how to do anything else,” Jacques said.
Part of CASA’S mandate is to help caregivers think differently, recognize they are not the sole people responsible, and seek out help.
The upcoming CASA Outreach event will discuss coping skills, problem-solving, and include discussion groups for those who would like to share their experiences.
There will also be a massage therapist at the event, as well as a physical activity trainer to give exercise tips and help caregivers stay active and healthy.
The event will be bilingual, Jacques said.
“Caring for the caregiver is somewhat unique,” Jacques said, “It’s really needed.”
CASA’S mandate right now covers the municipality of Austin. “We will establish it here, before opening up,” Jacques said, hoping the committee’s formula will be modeled through the Centre d’action Bénévole across the rest of the MRC eventually. “Not only are we there. We want to be a guide,” Jacques said, to keep caregivers informed about local resources that are available.
“A lot are not coming forth,” she said, hoping National Caregiver Week might encourage people to take a step forward.
CASA’S outreach activities will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 7 from 10 a.m. till noon at the Austin Community Hall, located at 21 Millington Rd.
Respite services are available during the event through the cooperative de solidarité de services à domicile de Memphrémagog.
For more details email email@example.com.
Police conducted safety checks at various Estrie location Thursday, like this one in Mansonville.