RPMH launches monthly caregiver support meeting

One in four adult Americans serve as caregivers to an elderly relative, spouse or friend. This crucial role can take a physical and mental toll on the caregiver, but with the appropriate knowledge and support, the job can be less taxing.Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital (RPMH) understands the importance of caregivers. To make their job easier, the hospital is scheduling the first of what is intended to be a monthly support group meeting on Thursday, Sept. 20.“Caregivers are compassionate individuals and commit themselves to caring for the lives of someone they know,” said Donna Boatright, administrator of RPMH. “Through their commitment, they often forget to care for themselves. We want to raise awareness of their own physical and mental state so they can continue their work.”According to a new report from AARP Public Policy Institute, roughly 65 million adult Americans across the country provide care for chronically ill, disabled or aged individuals. The typical caregiver is profiled as women (by 65 percent), 49 years of age who works outside the home.Combining personal responsibilities along with caregiving, it is not surprising that it can put a strain on the giver’s health. A recent online survey revealed that 69 percent of caregivers attributed their No. 1 source of stress to caregiving. With 25 to 50 percent of caregivers meeting the criteria for major depression, the need to seek support is critical to their own wellbeing.“The stress alone can be enough to impact the life of a caregiver. When combined with depression, it’s a recipe for serious health issues if not recognized ahead of time,” said Carol Frye, a local counselor who will be speaking at Sept. 20 support meeting. “That is why Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital is hosting these events, to educate caregivers in our community on how to create a healthy environment for themselves and those they support.”Caregivers commit themselves for an average of 4.5 years of service. For some, that length of time can have a long-lasting impact on their health.As a result, ongoing support is critical to sustaining wellness for caregivers. The monthly meetings will feature speakers and special guests who will discuss various topics.This month’s support group meeting will cover stress management and will be led by Frye. Medication management will be the topic of the Oct. 18 meeting, led by a Texas Tech University pharmacy professor out of Abilene.The first Caregiver Support Meeting will be held on Sept. 20, 2012, from 2 p.m. until 3:15 p.m. at the RPMH Emergency Department Classroom. The event is free of charge and requires no prior registration.For more information or for additional resources on the topics to be discussed, please contact Kristie Young at 325-235-1701 ext. 368.Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital provides healthcare for those in the communities they serve. Founded in 1976, Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital offers a wealth of medical services including: 24 hour emergency care, advanced radiology services including CT scanning and MRIs, outpatient lab, physical therapy, surgical services, swing bed services, patient education, home health and assistive services, and more. For additional information, please visit www.rpmh.net.