By Loida Casares
Every new parent either takes a class or reads parenting literature to prepare themselves on what to expect caring for their new baby. Yet how many think of doing that when caring for their own parents?
Caring for an elderly parent can be a huge challenge, especially as the parent needs more care and attention. A brief search for caregiving classes in Houston comes up short. Most of the classes I found had to do with becoming a certified care-giver, which isn’t what I needed. I was looking for classes that provide some direction to adults like me who are caring for an elderly parent. The best thing I found was a resource provided by PBS and even though it didn’t offer local help, it was still a source of great information.
In San Antonio there is an organization that provides an even better resource. Alamo Caregiver Empowerment offers a six week course for family members caring for an elderly person. The class is offered regularly in English but this year they offered the class in Spanish twice. Alamo Caregiver Empowerment is part of the Bexar Area Agency on Aging.
“The classes so far have been successful, the persons who attended feel that they learned skills that they can apply to their caregiving roles. We pre-register for the classes, and they are usually full, which is 12 persons maximum.” said Laura Ledesma, Caregiver Coordination Coordinator of Bexar Area Agency on Aging.
She also added, “The Powerful Tools for Caregiver’s classes are evidence-based, and are six weeks long, as a caregiver myself I have found the instruction very beneficial.”
Ledesma said they are also offering a “Hands on Care” training class on August 10 – 14 at the Bexar Area Agency on Aging offices. “This will be a week-long class targeting caregivers, and will be taught by a registered nurse. The class offers instruction on how caregivers can assist their loved ones with their activities of daily living. We have a mannequin, and a hospital bed, and allow the participants to practice the skills they need.”
These classes also cover the need for the caregiver to take care of him or herself. They discuss topics such as anger, blame and depression and how to make difficult decisions.
As the baby boomer generation is getting older and more adult children are caring for parents, there is an increasing need for classes like these. I know that I personally would gain a lot from learning more about how I can care for my father as he gets older.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 40 to 70 percent of caregivers suffer from depression. It can be especially challenging for a caregiver that has children of their own, like I do, and there are many who do.
Ledesma reminded me that November is National Family Caregiver Month and they are planning an event for that month. What a great opportunity to make more people aware of the need for caregiving classes, like the ones that this organization provides, in every major city.
Loida Casares is a native Houstonian who graduated from the University of Houston with a BA in Journalism and an MA in Communication. She works in advertising by day and is a writer and blogger at night. She has been blogging at ShoeGirlCorner.com for ten years. Loida also blogged for skirt.com, a national magazine for many years. She has read with Nuestra Palabra, Latinos Having Their Say several times and has appeared on their radio program on KTRU, Radio Pacifica.