Free support, resources for family caregivers

The Kenai Peninsula Family Caregiver Support Program will hold the following support group meetings in January:

Jan. 2, Tyotkas Elder Center (in Kenai), 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Jan. 5, Soldotna Senior Center, 1 to 2 p.m.

Jan. 16, Kenai Senior Center, 1 to 2 p.m.

Jan. 18, Sterling Senior Center, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Jan. 26, Nikiski Senior Center, 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Support meetings allow you to share your experiences as a caregiver, or support someone who is a caregiver. If you are helping a family member or friend by being a caregiver, learn what kind of help is available. There is no charge for these services and everyone is invited to attend. For more information or to offer suggestions on training topics, call Dani Kebschull at the Nikiski Senior Center, 907-776-7654.

The Homer caregiver support group meets at the Homer Senior Center on the second and fourth Thursday of each month (Jan. 11 and 25), from 2 to 4 p.m. Contact Pam Hooker for information, 907-299-7198.

Around the state

Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska (ARA) organizes caregiver support meetings around the state, including Anchorage, Eagle River, Fairbanks, Homer, Juneau/Southeast, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Mat-Su Valley, Seward, Sitka, Soldotna, Talkeetna, Willow. Call 1-800-478-1080 for details.

ARA also hosts a statewide call-in meeting on the first Saturday and third Wednesday of every month, 1 to 2 p.m. For information, call Gay Wellman, 907-822-5620 or 1-800-478-1080.

In Southeast Alaska, the Southeast Senior Services Caregiver Support Group meets every Thursday, 1 to 2 p.m. via Zoom. The group is available to all caregivers in the region. For more information and a Zoom invitation, call Denny Darby at 907-463-6181 or email

The national Alzheimer’s Association operates a 24-hour help line for caregivers, staffed by specialists and Masters-level clinicians, at 800-272-3900.

Family caregiver tip of the month

New Year resolutions for caregivers can be opportunities for growth but can sometimes feel like punishments. One of the things I hate about New Year resolutions is they seem to be about taking away something rather than giving yourself something. But when our brains think of resolutions as punishment rather than pleasure, it’s hard to maintain them.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Accept help. Those called to caregiving know in ways others don’t that giving care too often means putting yourself last. But let’s face it, you can’t do everything. Quite simply, you deserve a break. While you’re at it, don’t just experience the beauty of your own respite. Witness the enjoyment your loved one may get from interacting with others who might step in to provide care while you are gone. Lean on friends and let them help … they want to, you know!

Laugh, exercise and relax. Not necessarily in that order. But understand the importance of letting go. Laughter has long been touted as an antidote for what ails you, and exercise tones our bodies as well as our minds. It helps to relax muscles, relieves pain and boosts the immune system. Laughter and exercise together are a formidable formula for relaxation. Why not rent a funny movie? Read a captivating book? Tell a joke? You can do it. After all, life can be a grin.

Maintain “me” time. No matter your obligations, continue with hobbies and personal routines. Read a good book, dig in the dirt, create a scrapbook or even cook. Take a warm bubble bath. Light some candles. Treat yourself to a manicure or a pedicure. Or maybe even schedule a massage. Keep up with friends and social activities. After all, time away can be a quality investment since you will return refreshed and ready to tackle new challenges.

Stay positive. Your outlook is contagious and by turning the corners of your mouth up, you just might help your loved one do the same. Keeping a journal can provide an outlet for your emotions and can double as a barometer of your moods and attitudes.

Take care of yourself. As a caregiver, it’s easy to neglect your own needs and focus solely on the needs of the person you care for. However, self-care is crucial for maintaining your well-being, and making time for yourself is essential. Some self-care resolutions that you can consider include setting aside time for yourself each day; pursuing hobbies or interests; taking a break when you need it; accepting help when it’s offered.

So there you have it. Five resolutions you should be sure to keep this year. At a time of life when the daunting responsibility of caring for a loved one will no doubt be added to an already-heavy load, it’s important to remember your own best health is a necessary prerequisite to good care. Know you are investing in your own best future by taking care of the business of love.

- Dani Kebschull, Kenai Peninsula Family Caregiver Support Program