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Lewes, Delaware
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February 4, 1994     Cape Gazette
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February 4, 1994

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20 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, February 4 - February 10, 1994 .? Tips for caregivers on coping with stress By Kerry Kester The'role of caregiver for some- one with Alzheimer's disease is usually an extraordinarily stress- ful experience for people who choose to assume that role for a spouse or parent. John C. Cavanaugh, chairperson and pro- fessor of Individual & Family Studies at the University of Delaware, believes that stress reduction is possible when care- givers are provided with educa- tion about the disease and caregiv- ing, and through support groups. In his lecture at the College of Marine Science as part of the Uni- versity by the Sea lecture series on Tuesday, Feb. 1, Cavanaugh said that there are two domains of problems that account for roughly 85 percent of caregivers' biggest problems• Memory impairment, which accounts for about 50 per- cent, is the most frequent problem that caregivers report. Disruptive behavior accounts for the remain- ing 35 percent of reported prob- lems. Caregivers don't feel they can maintain much control of their situations, he says• Dementia, a common character- istic of Alzheimer's, is a result of brain deterioration. Actual struc- tural changes occur in the brain, leaving the victim unable to func- tion normally at either a mental and/or physical level• "It looks like a fair number of cases are genetically based," says Cavanaugh, "and in the long run, there's no effective treatment in terms of medications•" According to Cavanaugh, the vast majority of persons with Alzheimer's disease are cared for by family members. As a result, quality of caregiving is signifi- cantly influenced by the type of relationship the caregiver and patient had before the affliction• Those with loving relationships prior to the onset of the disease often cope more easily with the probl.ems the disease presents. Cavanaugh contends that most caregivers report that they choose their role rather than accept it out of a sense of obligation. Howev- er, regardless of how the role came about, caregivers will expe- rience problems coping• He says, "Very few caregivers report being unaffected• Most report moderate to severe levels of rela- tionship distress, especially in the area of affection and closeness• "Few careglvers still include their spouse in major relationship tasks (decision making) and few have strong social networks out- side their marriage. These disinte- grate during the course of caregiv- ing." Sometimes, he says, the care- giver's own health is jeopardized by the pressures he or she is under• "There may well come a point where caregivers have to make a decision about their own health," he says, and they may need to consider other care options for the patients. Options may include nursing homes or home health care assistance. Cavanaugh is particularly con- cerned with the guilt that many caregivers feel if they make the decision to send someone to a nursing home. "They need to get into support groups," he contends. He says that although more groups need to be organized, those groups that are available can pro- vide education for the caregivers. Many groups offer strategies for The Finest, Most Comprehensive Health Care AIDS Memorial Quilt is topic of Sussex meeting Delawareans will now have the 10 acres large. It will never again opportunity to memorialize their loved ones who have succumbed to AIDS since a chapter of the AIDS Memorial Quilt is coming to the state. Under the guidance of Philadel- phia NAMES Project Foundation member Doug Lindsay, and with the help of Sussex County HIV coordinator and Turnabout Coun- seling counselor Penny LeCates, and many volunteers, it is hoped this project will flourish. A meeting will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 13 at Turn- about Counseling Center, 8 N. Race St,, Georgetown for anyone interested in helping with the quilt displays or making a quilt panel in memory of someone. Specific guidelines must be followed when making a panel and Lindsay will bring a sample of the quilt with him for everyone to see. The original AIDS Memorial Quilt, which originated in San Francisco and is stored there now, weighs over 29 tons and is over be seen all in one piece. Lindsay said he began a Delaware chapter two years ago, but it never got off the ground• "When I was asked to come back, I said I would bring the quilt to Kent and Sussex• There are people down here who are living and dying with AIDS too." LeCates and Lindsay both com- pared the AIDS epidemic to previ- ous wars: "It's like we're at war, but we're not fighting anybody, we're fighting a cure to a disease. The number of lives that are involved in the quilt are incredi- ble. It's heart-wrenching to believe that that many people have died to this disease," said Lindsay. LeCates Compared the quilt to the Vietnam Memorial Wall. Much like veterans are memorial- ized on The Wall, people who have died of AIDS are memorial- ized on the quilt. For more information call LeCates at 856-2388. I I JOHN C. CAVANAUGH setting up physical environments that are conducive to memory support: Some groups also teach behavior management techniques• Cavanaugh also says that research indicates that religion plays an important role in helping caregivers cope. "Caregivers reporting the least stress said they worked on their own feelings or used a relationship with God [to cope]," he says. He also says that although being in a caregiving situation is extremely difficult and stressful, most of the caregivers in his study reported that they felt that provid- ing the care for those they loved gave meaning to their lives. is available at... "Comfortable Shoes For Active Lifestyles" Easy Spirit. 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