Care for the Caregivers program flourishes with grant
Barbara has devoted much of her time, energy, and spirit to caring for her husband Walt since his 2004 stroke, which left him with significant aphasia—an impairment of communication abilities common in those who have experienced strokes and other brain injuries. Walt has received speech-language therapy at the Loyola Clinical Centers for years. Last summer, Barbara learned about a new LCC program with a specific focus on her needs: Care for the Caregivers.
The weekly group, led by graduate students in Loyola’s pastoral counseling program, strives to enhance caregivers' ability to support family members with brain injuries while preserving their own psychological, physical, and spiritual well-being. Thanks to a grant of $10,000 from the Foundation for Spirituality and Medicine, a Baldwin, Md.-based non-profit that supports projects that recognize the role of the individual and spirituality in health and healing, the program will be able to offer additional financial assistance for eligible clients, purchase new educational materials, and allow participating graduate students to attend biannual pastoral counseling retreats.
“There’s no other place around where caregivers can really vent,” says Barbara. “To compare notes, to describe our problems, to offer suggestions. Our problems are really unique to our duties. Unless you’ve been on it 24/7, as caregivers are, you really can’t understand. I have my caregiving duties under control. Where I really need support is for myself. I don’t get a lot of ‘me’ time.”
Barbara is not alone in this regard. Long-term caregivers often experience anger, anxiety, isolation, and family separation, and struggle to find the time and energy to look after their own needs. Care for the Caregivers works to help people like Barbara take better care of themselves, which, in turn, improves their ability to care for their family members with disabilities. With support from the Foundation for Spirituality and Medicine, the program has helped to improve the quality of life for caregivers.