Free support, resources for family caregivers

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

Feb. 2, Soldotna Senior Center, with a training on transfers, by Annett Brookshire from Nettie’s Care Coordination, 1 to 2 p.m.

Feb. 6, Tyotkas Elder Center, round table discussion, 1 to 2 p.m.

Feb. 15, Sterling Senior Center, “Alzheimer’s and Diet,” with Cindy Harris from the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 to 2 p.m.

Feb. 20, Kenai Senior Center, “All About Medicaid,” with Valerie Flake from Val’s Care Coordination, 1 to 2 p.m.

Feb. 21, Seward Senior Center, round table discussion and bingo, 1 to 2 p.m.

Feb. 23, Nikiski Senior Center, “Alzheimer’s and Dementia,” with Cindy Harris from the Alzheimer’s Association, 1 to 2 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 or email

The Homer caregiver support group meets at the Homer Senior Center on the second and fourth Thursday of each month (Feb. 8 and 22), from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Contact Pam Hooker for information, 907-299-7198.

Kodiak Senior Center in partnership with Hospice and Palliative Care of Kodiak hosts the caregiver support group, Feb. 15, at 1 p.m. Call for information, 907-486-6181.

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

When people have asked if they can be of help to you, how often have you replied, ‘Thank you, but I’m fine’?

Many caregivers don’t know how to marshal the goodwill of others and are reluctant to ask for help. You may not wish to “burden” others or admit that you can’t handle everything yourself.

Be prepared with a mental list of ways that others could help you. For example, someone could take the person you care for on a 15-minute walk a couple of times a week. Your neighbor could pick up a few things for you at the grocery store. A relative could fill out some insurance papers.

When you break down the jobs into very simple tasks, it is easier for people to help. And they do want to help. It is up to you to tell them how.

Help can come from community resources, family, friends and professionals. Ask them. Don’t wait until you are overwhelmed and exhausted or your health fails. Reaching out for help when you need it is a sign of personal strength.

Tips on how to ask

Consider the person’s special abilities and interests. If you know a friend enjoys cooking but dislikes driving, your chances of getting help improve if you ask for help with meal preparation.

Resist asking the same person repeatedly. Do you keep asking the same person because she has trouble saying no?

Pick the best time to make a request. Timing is important. A person who is tired and stressed might not be available to help. Wait for a better time.

Prepare a list of things that need doing. The list might include errands, yard work, or a visit with your loved one. Let the “helper” choose what she would like to do.

Be prepared for hesitance or refusal. It can be upsetting for the caregiver when a person is unable or unwilling to help. But in the long run, it will do more harm to the relationship if the person helps only because he doesn’t want to upset you. To the person who seems hesitant, simply say, “Why don’t you think about it?” Try not to take it personally when a request is turned down. The person is turning down the task, not you. Try not to let a refusal prevent you from asking for help again. The person who refused today may be happy to help at another time.

Avoid weakening your request. “It’s only a thought, but would you consider staying with Grandma while I went to church?” This request sounds like it’s not very important to you. Use “I” statements to make specific requests: “I would like to go to church on Sunday. Would you stay with Grandma from 9 a.m. until noon?

(Source: Family Caregiver Alliance.)

People want to help but don’t always know the best way. These tips can help not just you, the caregiver, but the people who want to assist but don’t know what you need.

–Dani Kebschull, Kenai Pensinula Family Caregiver Support Program Coordinator

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