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During the SRPMIC Family Caregiver Conference on March 25, Bonnie DeLowe (center) was recognized as the 2009 Elder Caregiver of the Year by the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona. Pictured (l-r): SRPMIC Caregiver Coordinator Mary Weston, SRPMIC Senior Services Director Tamara Luckett, Caregiver Support Program Specialist Archie Mariano and Director of the Area Agency on Aging, Region VIII Lee Begay.

2010 Conference Empowers Family Caregivers

By Richie Corrales
Au-Authm Action News

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Family Caregiver Support Program hosted the 2010 Family Caregiver Conference at the Lehi Building on March 25. Community members who care for their elders, grandchildren or other family members attended the event. The theme for the conference was “Empowering Family Caregivers.”

Archie Mariano of the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA) Family Caregiver Support Program was the master of ceremonies and welcomed everyone to the event. This was his second time participating in the conference.

SRPMIC President Diane Enos gave a warm welcome to all the attendees and talked about how her drive to the Lehi Community that morning brought caregiving to mind: “The growth that comes from the rain brings many flowers that have bloomed all over the Community, and everything is green. There are times when our bodies are strong and blooming, but then there are times in life when we get at risk,” said Enos. “[As] the O’odham Piipaash, we all have to take care of each other.”

She continued, “Our parents took care of us, fed and cleaned us, and we have to do the same. The circle goes on and on.”

The conference featured guest speakers from different caregiver organizations and tables filled with health information. Enos thanked each presenter for participating in the conference.

Learning to Fill Your Cup
The first presenter was Courtney Long, MSW, LC, a self-care specialist with Caring for Your Spirit, LLC, which is located in Phoenix. Long told caregivers it was important to “keep their cups filled,” in other words to take care of themselves and fight the stress and burnout that come with caring for a family member. She shared tips and techniques for self-care and stress-free living.

“As caregivers, you are constantly pouring from your own cup, and that can wear on a person,” she said. “It is important to refill your cup with joy and maintain balance in all areas of your life.”

Long also addressed the good and bad of being a caregiver. “It can be a joy, but at the same time a worry. Did you know that you can create your own illness due to the stress, and you can be more susceptible to the common cold than other people are? Some caregivers even pass away before their loved one, so it is always important to take care of you,” she said.

She pointed out that when caregivers are exhibiting anger, withdrawal from people, a lack of interest and exhaustion, then it is time for some self-care maintenance. Long advised, “Remind yourself that you are in control of yourself.

Take the time to do some activities that you like. Are you having fun in your life? If not, then you have to create opportunities to have fun and be joyful as much as possible. This will help keep your stress down.”

Time management is also an important tool for caregivers. “If you find that there is never enough time in your busy schedule, then you need to use time management. This can be done by combining multiple tasks, prioritizing, making lists, doing less and saying the word ‘no.’ Otherwise, you may feel overwhelmed. Allow others to help— keep a list of some tasks that other people can help with.”
Long concluded her presentation by saying it is important to always give yourself credit for being a caregiver, and remember that “when you pour, you must fill.”

Tips for Grandparents
Salt River Elementary School Counselors Nola Johnson and Greg Cameron presented tips for kinship caregivers and grandparents raising grandchildren.

They presented 10 effective ways to discipline your grandkids (these work well with your own kids too!):
1. Invite your child to participate in deciding where/what the limits are.
2. Accept limits that you can live with.
3. Use logical consequences rather than punishment.
4. Give more choices and fewer orders; two choices are good enough. For example: “Do you want spaghetti, or mac and cheese?”
5. Use “when-then” sentences to motivate behavior. For example: “When you have finished your homework, then you may watch your show.”
6. Acknowledge feelings—people who are hurt, hurt other people.
7. Help your child to find acceptable alternatives to problems.
8. Don’t fight and don’t give in! Stay gentle but firm.
9. Work on your overall relationship with the child.
10. Get help when you need it.

More Important Information
Managing Attorney Kierstin Anderson from the SRPMIC Legal Services Department gave a presentation of legal issues involved with caregiving, such as power of attorney and guardianship issues.

Dr. Robyn Purdum, B.S., D.C., with All One People Chiropractic and Healing Center in Mesa, talked about healing the caregiver. She shared information on the body and also gave massages after her presentation.

The Salt River Family Caregiver Support Program provides support, education and case-management services to family caregivers in the Community. Monthly support groups, training and activities are provided to caregivers. SRPMIC family caregivers who provide care to seniors age 55 and older, adults with disabilities, or Grandparents Raising Grandchildren/Kinship Care Parents may be eligible to sign up for program services. Contact Caregiver Coordinator Mary Weston at Senior Services, (480) 362-7983, to find out more information.

DeLowe Named 2009 ITCA Elder Caregiver of the Year

At the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona Caregiver Conference, held on November 5, 2009, at the AVI Resort & Casino in Laughlin, Nevada, Bonnie DeLowe was selected ITCA Elder Caregiver of the Year.

Because DeLowe was unable to attend the November conference, she was recognized during the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Family Caregiver Conference on March 25 by ITCA Caregiver Support Program Specialist Archie Mariano and Lee Begay, director of the Area Agency on Aging, Region VIII.

DeLowe was nominated for the 2009 ITCA Elder Caregiver of the Year Award in recognition of her unselfish devotion to her father’s care. DeLowe, who is a senior herself, served as the primary caregiver to her father, a 92-year-old elder living on the Community. He became bedridden after a serious fall and required 24-hour care in order to remain in his home. DeLowe provided care for him day and night for a period of several months until other arrangements could be made, to acquire additional help, all while suffering from serious medical conditions herself. She put the medical attention she needed on hold to ensure her father’s needs were met.

“It is something I would do anyway for both of my parents, and I appreciate that I was named Caregiver of the Year,” said DeLowe.

DeLowe said she and her father are both happy that he is at home in his own house rather than in a rest home. “This is just something that comes naturally to me,” she said. “I would have taken on this responsibility anyway, and it is a great feeling.”

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