More than 65 million people, nearly one third of the U.S. population, are family caregivers – people who provide unpaid care for a loved one.
Locally, Duet, a Phoenix-based nonprofit, is working with passionate Ahwatukee community members to provide support and resources for family caregivers in need.
From Friday March 1 through Tuesday, March 5, Duet’s “I am a Family Caregiver” traveling photo exhibit will be on display at the Pecos Senior Center, 17010 S. 48th St., Ahwtaukee.
The traveling photo exhibit helps family caregivers “see” themselves as caregivers. By self-identifying as caregivers, they are more likely to connect with resources and support. In turn, they will better care for themselves.
The photo exhibit features poignant photographs, and each photo has a brief story attached to assist viewers in recognizing themselves as family caregivers and to help increase community awareness about family caregiving and the need for support.
In addition, Duet is partnering with trained volunteers to offer a “Finding Meaning and Hope” video discussion series beginning on March 13 at Pecos Senior Center.
This 10-week, peer-led group discussion is a free outreach to members of the community who are full-time, part-time or long-distance family caregivers.
Based on the book “Loving Someone Who Has Dementia: How to Find Hope While Coping with Stress and Grief,” by Pauline Boss, Ph.D., this video series occupies a unique place in the caregiving landscape, according to Duet.
Boss is best known for her groundbreaking research as the pioneer theorist and clinical practitioner of stress reduction for people whose loved ones are physically present, but psychologically absent, coined “ambiguous loss.”
The free video discussion series will take place on Wednesdays from 10:30 a.m. to noon, March 13 to May 15.
“The power of the video series is that each week, through a 20-minute video, Dr. Boss gives family caregivers an understanding of their ambiguous loss journey and teaches them the techniques that are crucial to reducing their stress, reclaiming hope and improving their health and well-being,” said Ann Wheat, director of family caregiver services at Duet.
Duet is a nonprofit that promotes health and well-being through a broad range of services to homebound adults, family caregivers, faith communities and grandparents raising grandchildren.
The nonprofit is there for family caregivers through support groups, information and guided assistance, workshops, an annual Family Caregiver Symposium, a “Finding Meaning and Hope” video discussion series, “I am a Family Caregiver” traveling photo exhibit, a peer mentoring program and more.
Ahwatukee resident Vicki McAllister is the volunteer facilitator for the “Finding Meaning and Hope” series.
She is also involved with Duet by supporting the nonprofit’s dementia engagement support group and she is the board chair of Senior Advocacy Group of Ahwatukee (SAGA), which provides education, resources and advocacy to the growing population of older adults, their families and caregivers.
“The success of SAGA’s recent event proves that there is a real interest, and need, for educational opportunities and information on available services for seniors,” McAllister said. “Our mission is to support this very important demographic in our community. We are here to help.”
McAllister is passionate about the “Finding Hope & Meaning” series.
“Pauline Boss’ work was inspirational, and the participants from last year’s class at Pecos Senior Center appreciated the tangible tools to build family caregiving resilience, taken from each chapter of her book,” she explained.
“The DVD video series truly equips caregivers with tools to reduce stress and provide meaningful ways to interact daily with persons with dementia. This improves daily quality of life strategies as a caregiver,” McAllister added.
Registration is required for the free video discussion series: 602-534-5366 or email@example.com.
-Michelle Talsma Everson is a freelance writer and spokeswoman for Duet.