Provena program teaches caregivers how to help themselves
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent November 6, 2012 2:14PM
Alexis McKenzie, executive director of The Methodist Home of the District of Columbia Forest Side, an Alzheimer's assisted-living facility, walks with resident Catherine Peake, in Washington, Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. Dementia can sneak up on families because its sufferers are pretty adept at covering lapses early on, longer if their spouses are there to compensate. Doctors too frequently are fooled as well. Now specialists are pushing for the first National Alzheimer's Plan to help overcome this barrier to detection _ urging what's called dementia-capable primary care, more screenings for warning signs, and regular checks of caregivers' own physical and mental health. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
If You Go
What:Self-Love Before Selfless Love
When: Saturday. Registration and refreshments are at 9 a.m. Program is from 10 a.m. to noon.
Where: Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center, Bruce J. Wallin, M.D. Conference Center, 333 N. Madison Ave., Joliet
Cost: Free. Early registration is encouraged as space is limited. Call 815-725-9438.
Contact: Contact: 815-741-0077 or visit www.provena.org/stjoes/leezasplace
Updated: December 8, 2012 6:11AM
Author and business expert Melissa Wittenborn knows both sides of the caregiving equation. She’s provided care for her mother and her son and received care from others following a head injury while ice skating.
“I realized in the ICU that I had spent my entire life caring for other people,” Wittenborn said, “and that the only way I was going to survive this was to take care of myself.”
From this experience, Wittenborn learned two lessons: Address your own needs and embrace each day’s gifts.
This will be her message when she speaks at the “Self-Love Before Selfless Love” caregiver symposium Saturday at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet.
Sponsoring the symposium is the Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center Foundation in Joliet and Leeza’s Place at Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet.
Kim Jackson, Leeza care advocate, feels caregivers, despite their good intentions, sometimes lose themselves in the caregiving journey.
“Caregivers want to do the right things, but when they get too busy, they risk their own personal health,” Jackson said. “If they continue putting others before themselves, they might become resentful of the situation. This symposium will help bring caregivers back to the reasons they are caregiving.”
Wittenborn emphasizes that effective caregiving begins with a happy caregiver. When people don’t meet their own needs, they can’t effectively meet the needs of others. During the crisis stage of “Why is this happening to me?” and “What did I do to deserve this?” it’s important to seek out and focus on the positive changes occurring amongst the negativity, even if one can only take baby steps.
“It will help you see challenges as blessings, even during the awfulness of it,” Wittenborn said. “It’s a change in mindset.”
However, one does not need to be a caregiver to benefit from the symposium. The overall theme, said Kathy Miller, Leeza care advocate, focuses on moving forward, finding ways to connect and communicate, and finding courage knowing that none of us is alone on this journey.
“That message is important to all people,” Miller said, “regardless if they are caring for someone, or caring for themselves.”
Gentle Touch Awards
After the keynote address, recipients of this year’s Gentle Touch Awards will be announced. Dr. Richard Zalar (deceased) established the award in 2005 through the Gertrude P. Zalar Alzheimer Care Foundation. Zalar’s wife Gertrude died in 2000.
Before the foundation dissolved in 2012, it selected Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center to be the recipient of its funds and to be used in support of Leeza’s Place to continue recognizing caregivers.
The award honors professional caregivers who display extraordinary compassion in the care and treatment of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other allied dementias. Each of the winners has proven to be an extraordinary caregiver at their healthcare workplace.
This year’s recipients are Dottie Hamilton, restorative nurse at Sunny Hill Nursing Home of Will County in Joliet; Olivia Guzman, a restorative nursing aide at Sunny Hill; Pam Morton, activity director at Presence Villa Franciscan in Joliet; Donna Williamson, health home unit director at Embassy Health Care Center in Wilmington; and Jane Choisser, resident care department caregiver at Inn at Willow Falls in Crest Hill.