We interviewed Reverend Karla Woodward about next week's Caregiver Support Group class. The class meets the fourth Tuesday of every month at 2 pm in Room 221.  The next next class is July 23.

When caring for a loved one, how important is it to set boundaries?

It’s really important to create boundaries because often times what happens is people slide into caregiving. A parent or a spouse or someone in their family needs a little bit of help, but as time goes on the demand and the need grows.  If they don’t decide up front what they are able and capable of giving and have an understanding what resources can come along side of them, they can get overwhelmed and absolutely exhausted.

How hard is it for caregivers to tell the person they are caring for the word “no”?

It is often very difficult for caregivers to say that and define what enough is. If they don’t fulfill the need, then the need either goes unmet or they have to find somebody else to do it.  It is not like the need goes away. It is really hard to define “enough.”  That is why they need the support of their church family and other family members. To set that up from the beginning and to say that I need help and to ask for help is so important as the journey goes along.

What is the structure of the class?

Everybody comes at 2 pm and we share basic introductions at tables of eight. At each table is a caregiver coach. A congregational care minister or a trained volunteer helps facilitate discussion and brings up special points that people may not have thought about in their caregiving journey.  After introductions we will have a time when Cheryl Greenough and I will offer tips and ideas for caregiving issues that everybody is experiencing.  After that we will have discussion questions at the tables of eight where everybody will get an opportunity to share their own personal story and any struggles with caregiving. They will discuss what’s worked well for them and specific tips they needed in their own caregiving journey. Everybody has a voice and an opportunity to share their experience.

How important are the table discussions and getting input from members in their own group?

Many times when people come away from the table discussions, they will say they thought they were the only one who was having that problem. They learn that they aren’t the only one. They have the courage to go home and try different types of things that may end up working very well for them.