Never Too Late - January/February 2024

Caregiving Caregivers: Big Hearts and Learning to Take Heart By Deb Seng , Director of Caregiving and Community Initiatives

Caregivers are amazing people with huge, kind hearts! They serve, they sacrifice, and they honor the people they love through their acts of kindness. Sometimes they listen to their loved one’s story—even for the 106th time. They show compassion for their loved one’s struggles and heartaches. They assist their loved one with eating, bathing, or even toileting—without expecting recognition. Caregivers give of their hearts, their lives, and their strength, sometimes to their own detriment. Caregivers often take their role as a personal responsibility to be undertaken tirelessly and perfectly. So we asked “Be- Leaf in Yourself” attendees about lessons learned in their caregiving journeys. Here’s what the caregivers said: • Do your research • Ask for help • Remember that you’re not alone Our team would like to add, manage your expectations. It is okay to be tired, to make mistakes, and to take care of yourself! Taking time to experience and express your emotions, and to recharge your heart is an important part of being a caregiver. One caregiver shared that the best way to care for themselves was, “feeling free to cry when overwhelmed then breathe—it all gets better with a good attitude.” Perhaps you realize you are a caregiver and want to learn what is available to you. PCOA’s compassionate and competent staff is available to guide and support you in your caregiving journey. Reach out to our Helpline, (520) 790-7262 to speak to a specialist today. As one sage caregiver

In November, PCOA connected with dozens of older adults and caregivers at “Be-Leaf in Yourself,” an event to support, encourage, and appreciate our community’s family caregivers. One young woman sought knowledge about resources and services recognizing that her parents, aunts, and uncles are aging though still living independently. Another participant has been caring for his spouse for many years and needs a break. And others shared their heartfelt stories about caregiving challenges and victories. PCOA’s Aging and Caregiving Support team often works with individuals who do not consider themselves caregivers. But being a caregiver can mean simply checking in on a loved one regularly; preparing food, picking up or managing medications; assisting with bills, household tasks, or yardwork. Participants at the “Be-Leaf in Yourself” event wisely pointed out that providing care means listening, practicing patience, and showing empathy. Caregiving is “giving the unique, special love that you are to another special someone.”

offered, “As much as possible, enlist the village to help. Caregiving is best when done as a group.” In this new year, we encourage you— and all caregivers—to take heart! And to reflect on those things for which you are hopeful. Perhaps you hope for “time with family,” “the ability to make each day the best possible for my family member and others,” or that “someone will care for me, too.” Some of the compassionate PCOA staff and volunteers ready to support and assist (from left to right): Elizabeth Reeves, Alex Trevino, Sarah Lahiff, McKenna Reinhard, Donna DeLeon, Kelley Hansen, Ann Gile and Bry Acuna (kneeling), Tonetta Clay, Deb Seng, Rae Vermeal, Jen Caragan, Katrina B., Jennifer Cain, Lisa Walters, and Nicole Thomas.

Connect with the compassionate caregiver community today!

January/February 2024, Never Too Late | Page 17

Pima Council on Aging

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