Desert Messenger

May 5, 2010

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P��� 22 How to reduce caregiver stress Illness in the family? How to reduce caregiver stress (ARA) - Who would ever imagine a healthy college senior might suffer a stroke? But that’s exactly what hap- pened to Nancy Worthen’s daughter, Maggie, at the end of her senior year at Smith College in Massachusetts. When Maggie fell into a coma after ex- periencing a brain stem stroke, one of the many stressful challenges Worthen faced was keeping family and friends from around the world updated on her daughter’s condition. “You just have so many people who want information and are trying to reach you,” she says. “We wanted to make it simple for peo- ple to find out what was happening.” Worthen turned to a resource that’s becoming increasingly popular among families and caregivers of patients who’ve experienced a serious health event like Maggie’s stroke - free, per- sonalized Web pages where they can post information about their loved one’s progress. D����� M�������� “Caregivers face many stresses when dealing with a loved one’s injury or illness, including the need to provide consistent updates to an extended net- work of family and friends who want to know how the patient is doing,” says Sona Mehring, founder of Caring-, a nonprofit organization that helps caregivers create Web sites for health updates. “Putting informa- tion online can be a big stress reliever for caregivers because it allows them to communicate important, and some- times difficult, information quickly and effectively to a large number of people, without having to repeat the same news over and over again.” Having a Web site “allowed us to tell the story we could never have told to people personally,” says Michael Dunn, whose identical twin daughters were diagnosed with neuroblastoma when they were just two months old. “It would have been a much more dif- ficult and lonely time without it.” “It’s important for caregivers to take care of themselves, as well,” Mehring says. In addition to using the Inter- net to stay connected with family and friends, she suggests, caregivers should: * Talk about it - Don’t avoid telling friends and family; it’s not good for your mental well-being to keep such stressful news to yourself. * Ask questions - You’ll hear a lot of medical terminology and treatment options. Don’t be afraid to ask ques- tions, seek second opinions and even gather information online from cred- ible Web sites. The more you under- stand the situation, the more you will feel able to cope with it. * Try therapeutic journaling - “Many people who use CaringBridge say it is beneficial to write their thoughts and feelings down,” Mehring says. “Journ- aling can bring relief and allow people to focus their thoughts on other impor- tant matters. Sometimes it’s easier to write down what you’re feeling rather than speak it out loud.” * Accept help - People truly care and truly want to help; let them. Post on M�� 5, 2010 your personalized Web page what you need and let family and friends in your online community decide how and when they can help. One person might offer to help with transportation to appointments. Another may be able to help with babysitting or cooking meals. “View help as a useful expres- sion of that person’s caring, not as a favor,” Mehring suggests. * Relax - This is a stressful situation. Patients and caregivers need to take time for themselves. Meditate, do yoga, go for a walk, take time off from work, turn off your phone for a few hours or get a massage. Courtesy of ARAcontent Strange but True By Samantha Weaver It was beloved American comedian and actor Bob Hope who made the following extremely sage observation: “People who throw kisses are hope- lessly lazy.” Next time you’re in Tinseltown, re- member that it is unlawful to herd more than 3,000 sheep at a time down Hollywood Boulevard. In the 19th century, ice accounted for more shipping than any other com- modity except cotton. William Howard Taft, the 18th presi- dent of the United States, was a large man. Quite a large man. In fact, he was so large that his 300-pound bulk got stuck in a White House bathtub, and he had to summon help to extricate himself. The French town of Versailles was originally built solely to house the staff of the extravagant palace. (c) 2010 King Features Synd., Inc. PUZZLE PAGE (page 20) ANSWERS

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