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How To Care For Elderly Relatives

Geriatric Hospital symposium to address caregiver stress and provide tips

By JEFFARAH GIBSON

Tribune Features Writer

jgibson@tribunemedia.net

HAVING to care for older relatives can be stressful and confusing, especially for caregivers who do not know how to deal with loved ones facing issues relating to physical and mental infirmities.

It can take an emotional and physical toll on family members who are at a loss in figuring out exactly what is needed to adequately take care of their older relatives. At the same time, those caregivers are also juggling their daily affairs.

To help people gain a better understanding about the unique task of caregiving, the Geriatric Hospital at Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre is hosting a Caregivers' Symposium under the theme "Aging Care - A Higher Calling".

The symposium will be held on October 19 at the Church of God Auditorium, Joe Farrington Road, beginning at 8.30am.

Dr Indira Grimes, consultant at the Centre, told Tribune Health the symposium aims to ensure optimum care for older persons diagnosed with multiple chronic health problems, including dementia, is through providing useful and engaging information about caregiving.

"Learning about the disease processes that commonly affect the elderly and knowing what to expect can help caregivers feel more in control and better able to plan ahead. It is also important for family caregivers to learn ways to manage stress and care for themselves in the midst of caring for a loved one," she said.

The symposium will be opened by the Minister of Social Services and Development Frankie Campbell.

Some of the major issues the symposium will address include caregiver stress, nursing home management, and education information on the prevention and management of various chronic medical illnesses that can affect seniors.

Dr Grimes said formal health professional caregivers such as nurses, patient care technicians and physicians in nursing homes and hospitals, as well as informal caregivers such as family members caring for loved ones at home, should come out to the symposium.

"Through the Caregiver Symposium, the Geriatric Hospital is attempting to provide an avenue of support to persons who care for older persons on a regular basis. While caregiving can seem burdensome and stressful, it can also be rewarding. Educational programmes like this symposium increase awareness about how important caregiving is and help to improve caregiving skills," she said.

The Geriatric Hospital at has a total of five wards. Initially, the Pearce Ward was the children's ward that housed physically and mentally challenged children. In 1984, the focus of treatment for the Pearce Ward was changed to accommodate elderly male psychiatric patients.

All wards were named in honour of doctors who served on the medical staff at the inception of the hospital. The hospital's first patient population consisted of people from the community, the psychiatric wards of Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre and the Prospect Hospital. All patients are aged 60 and above.

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