Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Local groups offer support to weary caregivers

When my father became ill last year, every few weeks I'd make the long, stressful drive from Tampa to the Panama City nursing home in which he was staying. How I wish I'd known then about the services of the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast.

Instead, the hospice nurse from the Panhandle would call me with regular reports about my father's progress. My friends would give me love and support. But who wants to burden them?

Little did I know I could have turned to the Pinellas Hospice for emotional and moral support. It wouldn't have mattered that my father was under another hospice's care. It wouldn't have mattered if he was under no one's care.

The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast offers caregiver services and support to virtually anyone — family members of their patients, local caregivers whose loved one has no connection to hospice, and even people like me, whose hands-on caregiving role is limited by distance.

The support can come in various forms, such as one-on-one meetings with counselors, or Caregiver Coffee Breaks, held at various locations around Pinellas County. About half who attend the coffee breaks have a loved one under the care of the local hospice.

"Nobody can really provide you with better support than those who know what you're going through," says Sandi Sunter, director of community programs for the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast.

In recent years, more emphasis has been placed on caregivers, and what they need during this trying time, Sunter says. Sometimes it's emotional support. Other times it's a break from the day-to-day demands that come with the caregiver role.

Throughout the Tampa Bay area, organizations provide insight and assistance so caregivers don't have to go it alone.

"There are still a lot of people who aren't aware there's help," says Tracy Barrows, information and assistance coordinator with the senior help line at the Area Agency on Aging of Pasco-Pinellas.

The agency serves as an entry point for finding government-funded services for seniors, as well as providing information on non-profit agencies, Barrows says. That might involve finding adult day care programs, in-home respite care or information on support groups.

There are 11 agencies across the state, and each is responsible for a number of Florida counties.

Hillsborough County also has its own Department of Aging Services, which runs six adult day care centers that can help care for those with Alzheimer's disease.

Often, an adult child who is caring for a parent drops him or her at a center on the way to work, then picks them up at the end of the day, says Susan Torres, a registered nurse with the department. Or a spouse might need a bit of free time to run errands or simply to have coffee with a friend.

The patients also benefit from getting out of the house and socializing.

For those whose loved one has dementia, the Alzheimer's Association Florida Gulf Coast Chapter has a 24-hour help line, which can provide advice in a crisis, or listen because "sometimes people just need to talk and vent," says Gloria Smith, the chapter's president and chief executive officer.

The organization also will provide care consultations in its office or at a person's home to discuss services and needs. There are 130 support groups available along the Gulf Coast.

"People need to ask for help earlier so we can make their life a little bit easier," Smith says.

Freelance writer Susan Ladika lives in Tampa.

Local groups offer support to weary caregivers 04/28/08 [Last modified: Monday, April 28, 2008 4:31am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Strategic Property Partners launches website for Water Street Tampa


    Strategic Property Partners has launched its official website for Water Street Tampa, its 53-acre redevelopment project in downtown Tampa Tuesday.

    Strategic Property Partners on Tuesday announced the name of its new development: Water Street Tampa. [Photos courtesy of SPP]
  2. Is Mikhail Sergachev, who debuts with Lightning at Wednesday camp, ready for the NHL?

    Lightning Strikes

    BRANDON — When defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was taken ninth overall by the Canadiens in the 2016 NHL draft, a horde of Montreal media surrounded him for his first news conference.

    Mikhail Sergachev takes a shot during warmups prior to a game between the Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes in October in Montreal. [Getty Images]
  3. ReliaQuest CEO Brian Murphy named sole Tampa Bay winner in EY state entrepreneur contest


    ReliaQuest founder and CEO Brian Murphy was named one of nine winners statewide and the only one from the Tampa Bay area in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Florida Awards program. Murphy won in the IT security division after starting ReliaQuest in 2007. Five of the nine winners were from the Miami …

    Tampa's ReliaQuest founder and CEO Brian Murphy was named one of nine winners statewide and the only one from the Tampa Bay area in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Florida Awards program. Murphy won in the IT security division after starting ReliaQuest in 2007.
  4. Top pick Brendan McKay signing with Rays for $7M bonus


    The Rays are set to sign top pick 1B/LHP Brendan McKay for a bonus just over $7-million, the Tampa Bay Times has learned.

    McKay was the No. 4 overall pick in the June 12 draft as he starred as a two-way player leading Louisville to the College World Series.

    The deal is expected to be finalized …

  5. Man found dead in Dunedin canal identified as missing 63-year-old

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies on Tuesday identified the man found floating in a Dunedin canal as the man who was reported missing last week.

    Charles P. Morris, 63, was found dead in a canal in Dunedin behind Cedar Creek Mobile Home Park, at 605 Michigan Blvd. around 3:48 p.m. Monday. He was reported missing June 21 after he was last seen leaving his home the night before to walk his dog. [ Courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]