Caregavers for senior parents often need help themselves

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Watching someone you love suffer memory loss from Alzheimer's disease, or another dementia is devastating. The Suncoast offers resources, education and support, but knowing where to find them may be a challenge.

For baby boomers fast becoming caregivers to aging parents, it takes a toll on their own health.

Seeking help for your loved one is emotionally exhausting and difficult. “We were with her all the time, and so we did try to bring a nurse in for her and she didn’t want anybody living with her, and threw a fit. So we basically decided, finally, she really wasn’t safe,” says Susan Schafer. Her 92-year-old mom suffers dementia. Now, she resides at Inspired Living at Sarasota, where Schafer says there is support. “They do hold classes and things that you can go to.”

She is one of the lucky ones. Many caregivers find their own health declining because they don’t know where to turn for help in the community.

“It's really important for them to find social services like the Senior Friendship Center that provides a day program, which is the only one that does in the Sarasota, Venice and Bradenton area.” Nancy Clanton of Inspired Living says unfortunately caregivers wait too long to reach out, then need help themselves.

But more facilities are now offering respite. “Respite is a short term, where your loved one is being taken care of for either an hour a day, or several days throughout the week.”

The conference room at Inspired Living is where caregivers can go for some respite. They'll be given information and support, while their loved one is cared for in a secure environment. “It gives them a break, it lets them get rejuvenated and inspires their lives.”

A.J. Cipperly of Validus Senior Living says not everybody has to go into managed care. “There are many resources that are able to come to the home, and help the caregiver care for the loved one.”

Many home health care and companion agencies are right here in our community. “Infinity Homecare, Right At Home, All Stat, just to name a few.”

But reaching out, says Cipperly, is the most important thing you can do to help your loved one and yourself. “Get support, find a support group. There are many you need the support. Get some help.”