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Support group at Timbers of Shorewood provides encouragement, resources

Support group at Timbers of Shorewood provides encouragement, resources

Published: Monday, Aug. 3, 2015 10:59 p.m. CST
Caption
(Photo provided)
Roger Bromley (left) and Nancy Keniley attend the caregivers support group at the Timbers of Shorewood.
Caption
(Photo provided)
Dave Pickard (left) and Tom Stefanech attend the caregivers support group at the Timbers of Shorewood.

SHOREWOOD – When Roger Bromley and his wife, Connie, packed up and moved from their home in Maroa into his mother’s Joliet house to become her caregivers, the responsibility was more than he anticipated.

“Her doctor told me I needed to get help – not help with her, but help for me, because of my stress,” Bromley said, adding his mother had dementia. “I couldn’t tell that I was under that much stress, but other people around me could tell.”

Within a year of the move, Bromley joined a caregivers support group at Leeza’s Place in Joliet – a facility created by TV personality Leeza Gibbons where caregivers could go for help and resources.

“I met a bunch of other people who were going through the same things,” Bromley said. “Most of them longer than I had.”

When Leeza’s Place closed, Bromley worked with The Timbers of Shorewood staff to start a new caregivers support group. That is in its second year and open to anyone in the community – not just those who live at The Timbers or have loved ones there. It meets at 6:30 p.m. Thursdays.

“It’s good to talk it out and get it out on the table. … We are an encouraging group,” Bromley said.

Caregivers need care, too

Bromley said he found statistics that showed many caregivers succumb to illnesses before their loved ones because they are so busy taking care of another they ignore their own health.

At his first support group, Bromley learned how to develop patience for his mother, who eventually lost the power to reason out her fears and fantasies. He also learned how to handle different situations and not pass judgment.

“Mom thought she was pregnant one time,” Bromley said. “And she would repeat the same question over and over. ... She got upset with me many times. She would throw me out of the house. I snapped at her one time, and I learned at Leeza’s that was normal.”

Family medicine physician Dr. Muneeb Qadri, of Presence Medical Group in Joliet, feels support groups for caregivers are valuable. He has seen the consequences caregiving can have on his own patients.

“They sometimes don’t realize all the things they do for them, and they take on so much that they forget to take care of themselves,” Qadri said. “Caregiving is stressful physically and psychologically, and it can take a toll. ... As a primary care physician, it is important for us to identify that.”

Other benefits

Caregivers support groups have additional benefits. Bromley said they are great for learning about various facilities that handle dementia. Members also might know about resources, such as grants, that are available for respite care.

Bromley continued with the caregivers support group at Leeza’s Place after his mother died in 2011, then brought it to The Timbers in 2014. The Timbers support group averages eight to 12 caregivers each week.

Some who attend are living with a loved one for whom they care. Others’ loved ones are in a facility. Their families include those with dementia, cancer, macular degeneration, genetic disorders – men and women, wives and husbands, great-aunts and sisters.

Dave Pickard of Braceville takes care of his wife of 48 years who has Alzheimer’s disease. It actually was his wife, years ago, who first recognized her symptoms as the beginning of dementia and advised her husband to start going to a support group.

“My wife went to work one day and forgot how to turn the computer on,” Pickard said. “She stopped at Leeza’s and said she thought I ought to start going to the support group.”

Pickard said he did, and the decision was a good one.

“Unless you’ve actually been a caregiver for someone with dementia, you don’t know what they’re going through,” he said. “It’s 24/7. You have no time for anything and nobody to talk to.”

Pickard, who now attends the support group at The Timbers of Shorewood, said some people might have trouble talking about their situations at the beginning. They are free to sit and just listen.

“You’re not alone,” he said. “It makes your journey easier. They’re walking the same walk you are.”

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IF YOU GO

WHAT: Planning for Life’s Journey

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Timbers of Shorewood, 1100 N. River Road, Shorewood

ETC: Elder law attorney Jerome J. Goergen will present an educational workshop for caregivers and children of elderly parents. Topics include how to protect your assets, how “Medicaid Asset Protection Trusts” work and veterans’ benefits.

CONTACT: Linda McCluskey at 815-609-0669

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Caregivers support group

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Thursdays

WHERE: Timbers of Shorewood, 1100 N. River Road, Shorewood

CONTACT: Linda McCluskey at 815-609-0669

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