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Local Class to offer Caregiver Survival Skills

As loved ones age, there are myriad decisions that family members face when it comes to the person’s care. Many caregivers balance careers, children and a marriage while caring for the aging adult, often glossing over their own needs.

As part of an ongoing effort to provide information and resources to caregivers — whether they are family members or professionals — the Faith Presbyterian Church Nursing Home Ministry and the SouthEastern Arizona Governments Organization Area Agency on Aging are co-sponsoring a seminar featuring a well-known elder-care consultant as the keynote speaker.

“To Survive Caregiving” is the title of the seminar, as well as a book written by Dr. Cheryl Woodson. As the event’s presenter, Woodson is described as a working wife, mother of teenagers, doctor, educator, elder-care consultant, businesswoman and author. Woodson’s medical practice specializes in the care of older adults and the people who care for them.

She will be taking time from her practice in Chicago Heights, Ill., to speak at the event on Nov. 5 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Faith Presbyterian Church, 2053 Choctaw Drive.

As someone who has practiced geriatric medicine for more than 20 years, Woodson also supervised the care of her mother, who lived with Alzheimer’s disease in the last 10 years of her life. In her book, Woodson shares some of her own experiences as a caregiver and offers advice to those who are in caregiving roles.

Woodson will be discussing such issues as family conflict, nursing home placement, end-of-life care and grieving. She stresses the importance of finding a support team, emotional health and planning for senior years.

“We offer a caregiving workshop every other year,” said the Rev. Virginia Studer, who started Faith Presbyterian’s nursing home ministry 10 years ago. “We do this to offer caregivers encouragement and provide opportunities for people to share resources and ideas.”

Through Faith Presbyterian’s seminars, caregivers learn they’re not alone, that there are other people who are facing some of the same challenges, Studer said.

Caregiving can be very stressful, said Kathleen Heard, director of the SEAGO Area Agency on Aging.

“We recognize how difficult it can be, so we offer classes and have resource directories to help people with different questions they may have,” she said. “We also help people with Medicare questions, which can be difficult to understand and is often overwhelming.”

The agency offers free caregiver training sessions at the Ethel Berger Center the third Thursday of every month at 1 p.m. Family members often don’t think of themselves as caregivers and don’t seek the emotional support and stress management they need, Heard said.

“We often refer to the caregiver as the hidden patient because they’re so busy taking care of the loved one, they fail to take care of themselves,” she added.

Woodson has an excellent reputation as a public speaker, with in-depth knowledge about the kinds of challenges that come with eldercare, Heard said. “People who have attended her presentations say she is an excellent presenter.”

IF YOU GO What: Faith Presbyterian Church Nursing Home Ministry and SEAGO Area Agency on Aging are sponsoring a caregiving workshop.

When: Nov. 5.

Where: Faith Presbyterian Church, 2053 E. Choctaw Drive.

Cost: $15, which includes lunch. Those interested in attending can pay for the seminar anytime from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday at the church office, or at the door. Scholarships and continuing education certificates available upon request.

RSVP: All those interested in attending must RSVP by Nov. 1 by calling Rosemary at 378-9400 or by e-mailing



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