Caregivers have a chance to improve their quality of life through an educational series.
Powerful Tools for Caregivers, a nationwide program, starts Thursday at the Tony Rotino Senior Center. It is aimed at caregivers who are actively caring for seniors, many who suffer from a chronic illness. There are six sessions in the program, and the classes are held Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m.
"There are still openings," Wendy Fisher, the coordinator, said Wednesday.
People can sign up for the program until the second session on Feb. 20.
"We'd love everyone to be there for the whole six weeks though," she said.
Powerful Tools for Caregivers is designed to teach caregivers how to take better care of themselves while caring for another. A big issue for caregivers is maintaining their own health and well-being.
"In order to best care for someone else, you have to take care of yourself," Fisher said.
"People tend to neglect themselves while they take care of others," she said.
The classes cover tools that reduce stress, changing negative self talk, how best to communicate one's feeling and needs to others, finding ways to set limits, and knowing when and how to ask for help.
"We talk about tools to increase a caregiver's self care and confidence to handle difficult situations, emotions and decisions associated with caregiving," Fisher said.
Participants are also introduced to resources available in their community.
The instructors are trained for the program as master instructors.
"Some of us have been caregivers ourselves or have worked with caregivers," she said.
The participants will receive a book to keep, called "The Caregiver Helpbook." There is no cost to attend the program, but a donation of $30 is suggested to help defray the cost of the book.
"It's not required to attend the class," Fisher said.
The book serves as a supplement for what is covered in the sessions.
"It is part training from a PowerPoint and part brainstorming with the participants," she said of the teaching model. "There's time to break up into partners to discuss certain issues or tools, to practice."
The program is made available through a grant from the Florida Department of Elder Affairs, in collaboration with the Lee Memorial Health System and the CARE Program.
"We do it throughout Lee County," Fisher said, adding that it has been offered for a couple years.
"We try to make it so it's convenient for the caregivers. We try to move it around," she said.
Discounts for one-on-one home care are available during the weekly class times.
To register, or for more information on the program or discounts, call (239) 343-9224.
The Tony Rotino Senior Center is at 5817 Driftwood Parkway.