ISU Extension to offer class for caretakers

A class aimed at helping caretakers of family members who are suffering from illness take care of themselves will be offered for the first time in Webster County.

The class, Powerful Tools for Caregivers, is being offered by Iowa State University’s Webster County Extension office.

Malisa Rader, family life specialist for ISU Extension, will be leading the six-week class.

“You don’t necessarily learn how to care, but you learn how to care for yourself so you can be the best caregiver you can be,” Rader said. “The audience for it is those who are caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia or other aging issues.”

Though that’s the main group of people the class is hoping to attract, Rader said it’s open to anybody.

“The person they’re caring for doesn’t have to be in primary care,” she said. “They can be in a nursing home or still living by themself, yet feel they need supporting.”

In her previous experiences teaching the class, Rader said she’s noticed those in the group feel a connection.

“It’s usually a group that ends up getting fairly close and connected as they share with each other,” she said. “Oftentimes I’ve had groups in the community still meet even after the class is over just as a support for each other.”

According to Rader, those in the class will gain new knowledge to how to better handle their jobs as caregivers.

“They’re going to walk away having reflected on what tools are best for them to use,” Rader said. “How to have those difficult conversations and how to resolve situations that come up through the caregiving process.”

Mary Jo Wagner, ISU Extension and Outreach program coordinator, said she believes the class will be beneficial to those who attend. Wagner, who has had to serve as a caretaker herself, said it’s a much-needed class for Webster County.

“I didn’t have that information available to me about how to care for myself during that time,” she said. “It was really stressful.”

As a caretaker, Wagner said most people don’t even think about their own well-being.

“As an outsider it’s easy to look at other people and see that stress,” she said.

Rader said she knows the caretakers of Webster County will benefit from this class.

“I don’t know of another that targets them and gives them these tools,” she said. “There’s lots of information about how to care for a loved one, and also how you care for yourself going through that situation.”

She also said if there are people who know a caretaker that would benefit from the class, they should encourage the caretaker to look at the class.

“Often times it takes a personal ask,” she said. “Someone connecting and saying ‘you need to do this in order to take care of yourself’ can be enough. They see the hurdles they have and we see how we can work through those hurdles to work with them here.”

The class runs Mondays from Oct. 14 to Nov. 18 and goes from 1-3:30 p.m. Anybody interested in the class is asked to call the ISU Extension office at 576-2119.