Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Caregiver Conference

Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a Caregiver Conference through VA Puget Sound Health Care System at American Lake VAMC.

First was a Doctor from the Deployment & Combat Health Division, Dr. Stephen Hunt. He talked about the role of the Caregiver. He considers Caregiving, the most meaningful and important act, since it is a natural act for many the world over. Parenting is Caregiving.

Dr. Hunt gave us questions to consider about Caregiving:
  • What does being a Caregiver mean to you?
  • How have you learned about Caregiving?
  • What was it like, being a Caregiver?
  • What helped the most?
The answers are not surprising but I will not share those answers but there are definitely worth thinking about.

Dr. Hunt mentioned how attitude and support are key elements in Caregiving and that sometimes the Caregiver has to take the same approach with the same values as our service members used during their time in service. This made a lot of sense. There are times my DH responds better when I use a more military approach with him. He also talked about how the cost of service is family wide and support is not JUST about the Veteran.

Caregivers have a dedication to support one another. This creates new bonds but can also create Caregiver fatigue so the Caregiver needs to take advantage of any resource available to them.

The need for self care is so important for Caregiving and will create a satisfaction which is the cornerstone of successful Caregiving. The key elements here are personal care (more important than medical or clinical care), social support for the family, and to identify barriers of self care.

Dr. Hunt considers self care to be:
  • self nurturing
  • personal life
  • healing activities - hobbies
  • balanced life
  • goals
  • respite care
When the audience laughed he commented that while we laugh we should still consider all of the above at different times. He highly recommends Yoga for relaxation. He has worked with local (Seattle area) Yoga studios to help combat veterans and ended up with a total of 42 studios willing to donate time to assist returning combat veterans.

He concluded with reminding us all to  know yourself, value yourself, care for yourself.

Do not deny the difficulties of your work.

Cast loving eye on yourself and your needs the same as we do for our loved ones. This is about our lives.