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During the last eleven months I have been on a leave of absence from my
teaching position with the Arlington Independent School District, in Texas
in order to care for my elderly, home bound, Mother. At first I thought
eldercare would be a snap, after all, how difficult could it be to feed and
take care of someone in their own home? I had visited Mother on holidays
for several years and had helped out with many of the routine chores that
she was incapable of doing for herself - so I started off with a great deal
of confidence. As the months slipped away my understanding of this
natural function changed. There is a big difference between
helping out and total care. Mother and I are not to total care yet, but
we are approaching that stop on our journey. In recent months I felt the
need for more preparation for myself as that time approaches.
In this day and age when everything happens so quickly - we often forget how new something is. The media in all its forms can saturate society with information about the latest "buzz words" so that we begin to think that word has been part of our life forever. According to a recent article in the Kansas City Star, the words "World Wide Web" first appeared in the Los Angeles Times in 1994 - and yet it seems like I have been living with that concept most of my life. Every time I run the check disk program (>C:\chkdsk c:/f) on my PS/1 386sx25 I am reminded that the hard drive was loaded on 1-1-92, just a little over four years ago - and now it is as ancient as a dinosaur.
A week ago Mother was taking care of me, my brother and sister. Yesterday she was caring for her Mother and today we assist her. . .
In a previous article for infoZine I identified some of the sources, references, and resources found on the World Wide Web that relate to seniors, aging, and eldercare (March 1996 - "Eldercare and the Modem"). I continue to scour the web for information to educate myself about eldercare. New links are added to a page on the WWW that relates to seniors and eldercare.
November of 1995, infoZine ran a news release about a new program, Home Care - Skills For the Family Caregiver, designed by the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the American Red Cross. The program was developed after a study was done in our area prior to June 1994 that documented the need for such a home care program. Another study done later by the National Red Cross also identified home care training for the family caregiver as a high priority.
This class is centered on developing skills for the family caregiver. That caregiver might be a spouse, parent, daughter or son, brother - sister, relative, friend or companion. Although I took the class specifically because of my need for skills in caring for an elderly parent, the class is designed to meet the needs of anyone finding themselves in home care giving for anyone with a terminal or recoverable illness that is confined to the home for an extended period of time.
My intent is not to give you details of the course in this article but to tell you that the course is available and is worth your time.
Following up on the news release, I made initial contact with Christine Blandin, RN at the Greater Kansas City Red Cross (816) 931-6662 ext. 203 during the middle of March to make an appointment to take the class on Tuesday, April 16th. Chris called on Monday to confirm the class was still scheduled even though it looked like I was to be the only participant.
I arrived at 7:45 AM at the Chapter's headquarters located on Armour Boulevard. Chris was there and ready to start just as soon as I signed in as a visitor. She made me feel right at home and at ease. We talked extensively during the class about my reasons for taking the class and Chris skillfully adjusted the direction and flow of the class to meet my needs, experiences and current skill level. After the first break, a second nurse in training joined the class for the rest of the day.
I have been a teacher since 1968. Over many years I have attended hundreds of classes as a teacher and as a student. This class is well planned, prepared and presented. It is taught through a mixed multimedia format that includes VCR clips, Power Point segments, handouts, lecture, question and answers, and hands on demonstrations with equipment including a full sized mannequin named Pat (the anatomically correct type that just happened to be female the day I was taking the class since I am specifically preparing to take care of Mother). The pace of the class was smooth and constantly adjusted to meet my needs. We slowed down to go over points that needed clarification or where I needed additional practice and we speeded up or passed over areas where I already had the knowledge or skills.
Throughout the class, Chris helped me to define and improve my skill level, raised my awareness of Mother's needs and gave me some skills and resources to be a better care giver. After seven hours, I had a practical list of things to do when I got home to make our home a safer place for an elderly person. I also have a list of things for me to do over the coming months that will allow Mother to continue do as much as possible for herself. There were specific suggestions about equipment such as hand bars, transfer belts and raised toilet seats that can make a real difference in the quality of home care.
Finally, I was given resources to help me with my education process. These include access to a computer data base about medications, a list of community resources, individuals to contact by phone and two books prepared especially for home care givers.
Home Care: Skills For The Family Caregiver - reproduced from the textbook Foundations for Caregiving with permission from the American National Red Cross and Mosby Yearbook, Inc.
American Red Cross: Skills for Caregiving, Mosby Lifeline, St. Louis c. 1993 ISBN 0-8016-6514-0
Home Care - Skills For The Family Caregiver offered by the Greater Kansas City Chapter of the American Red Cross is very new. Only about fifty individuals have taken the course so far. You will hear more about this course in the future as other media sources recognize its value to individuals and the community.
For more information contact:
American Red Cross
Christine Blandin, RN, BSN 816-931-6662, ext. 203
Stephanie Albrecht, RN, BSN 816-931-6662, ext. 293
copyright 1996 William R. Eubank
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