Look­ing out for care­givers in Austin

Sherbrooke Record - - FRONT PAGE - By Matthew Mc­cully

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 emuise@mass­com.com.

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 b.pa­que­tte@mu­nic­i­palite.austin.qc.ca.

PHO­TOS BY EM­I­LIE HACK­ETT

COUR­TESY SÛRETÉ DU QUÉBEC

Po­lice con­ducted safety checks at var­i­ous Estrie lo­ca­tion Thurs­day, like this one in Man­sonville.

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