ADSA, COPES, MPC, O3A, SSPS, SCSA, DSHS, HCS - need another acronym?

Probably not, but here's a good one to keep in mind: the FCSP Family Caregiver Support Program available through the Olympic Area Agency on Aging.

You can visit our Web site (http://www.o3a.org) and look under "About Us/Programs and Services" for general information, but let's take a brief look here for now.

First off, in this program, a family caregiver may be broadly defined as an adult who is providing non-paid care for another adult who is 60 or above. "Family" may be immediate or extended and "care" may be any activity that enables someone to live independently in their home with the support provided. I know, that's all fairly obvious, but what about the "support program" services?

A very brief summary of services includes:

• Information (well, we are about information!) and assistance in accessing resources such as support groups, etc.

• Counseling for the caregiver and family.

• Provision of in-home respite (relief) services to allow caregivers time to themselves.

• Ongoing interaction with and availability of helpful staff.

Support groups are mentioned above, and depending on your experience you may or may not be excited about the prospect. However, if you can relate to any of the following thoughts and feelings, there are others out here who have gone before you.

"I feel put upon and start to feel sorry for myself. Then I feel guilty because this is what I should be doing anyway. Then I get angry because I was made to feel guilty. So suddenly I'm a bad person, and I feel put upon again ..."

"Like a pinball in some madman's game, I bounce back and forth between exhaustion, guilt, anger and teeth-grinding determination."

"I know there are lots of other people doing this, and I'm sure they don't get these feelings. Am I a bad person? If I could just get a chance to catch my breath, maybe I could figure things out..."

Sound familiar? If so, a support group may be just the thing. It's amazing how much weight lifts off when you realize you are not alone; that the thoughts, feelings, frustrations and weariness you experience are shared by others.

The effort to pick-up the phone and call someone for information or assistance may seem minimal; but if you're already spending 24/7 providing care or being on standby just in case something's needed, then you know that anything else is tough. While recognizing this, we still encourage you to pry loose a few minutes and give us a call - it may be just the support you're looking for. Either call direct to our FCSP person for Grays Harbor-Pacific County, Polly McAllister at (800) 801-0060; or give your local Senior I & A office for a referral, just ask for information about respite or family caregiver support. You truly are not all alone out there - we can help.

Senior Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 642-3634/(888) 571-6558

Raymond: 942-2177/(888) 571-6557

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