Seniors and caregivers in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and surrounding areas participated in a morning caregiver conference held at the Courtyard Marriott Scottsdale-Salt River on Friday, June 10. SRPMIC Council Member Michael Dallas, Sr. opened the workshop with a prayer as participants walked in after enjoying a continental breakfast.
The SRPMIC Family Caregiver Support Program, located at the Salt River Senior Center, hosted the workshop, which was designed to give caregivers a different perspective on their daily duties, which tend to be very difficult and demanding at times. A caregiver is anyone who routinely assists others who cannot care for themselves or are limited by chronic health conditions. They can be paid employees of home health agencies or volunteer caregivers, such as family members.
In this line of work, the stress level is extremely high. This can have a detrimental effect on the body, putting caregivers at greater risk for physical and emotional problems ranging from heart disease to depression.
Steve Saffron, who has worked within the Community and also as an instructor at Scottsdale Community College, was the presenter for the morning. He talked about “The Awesome Power of the Engaged Caregiver,” reviewing strategies to help caregivers who take care of children, adults and the elderly see a positive side to life. He emphasized laughter, humor and play as tools to help caregivers. “Your jobs are very serious,” he said.
Saffron said caregivers need to take care of themselves to avoid burnout.
“When it comes to caregiving, you know you also need to take care of yourselves, but you don’t. You need to know when to say no,” he said.
Saffron added that our attitudes can make us or break us, and he encouraged the workshop participants to maintain a positive attitude and to always show kindness and respect to those they take care of, and to everyone.
“You need to dance, laugh and cry every day because all those chemicals [in the brain] are different,” said Saffron. He conducted an exercise in which everyone screamed for a few seconds and then laughed.
After a group ice-breaking session, Saffron addressed the topic of respect. In their individual groups, participants shared examples of caregiving stories of compassion and/or satisfaction. “We all have our stories, and it makes us who we are,” said Saffron.
The next topic was “How Can You Take Care of Yourself?” Saffron asked what individuals have learned from their culture and how they apply it to their caregiving. Several volunteers shared their responses with everyone.
Lunch was served and Steve Pattea provided musical entertainment. In the lobby, attendees could take brochures and information from different Community departments and local agencies offering legal services and caregiver support.