Make us your home page
Instagram

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

Loading...
  1. President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

    Blogs

    President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

  2. Kissimmee police officer dies, one gravely wounded; Jacksonville officers shot

    News

    KISSIMMEE — A Kissimmee police officer died and a second was gravely wounded Friday night, police Chief Jeff O'Dell said.

    Two police officers have been shot and killed in Kissimmee, authorities say. The shooting happened in the area of Palmway and Cypress around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. Photo courtesy of WESH.com
  3. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  4. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming

    Roads

    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.