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Conference to focus on setting families up for caregiving success as loved ones age

If you are currently caring for a loved one, or if you are considering it, MU Health Care is offering a Family Caregiver Conference on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center. (MU Health Care)

A growing number of Americans find themselves caring for an aging loved one. While it can be rewarding, some caregivers report feeling both mental and physical strain. Some of that anxiety can be relieved through proper planning.

Joyce Mitchell, 86, decided to move into Columbia’s Tiger Place retirement community after her husband, Roger, died in 2013.

“I didn’t want to shovel the snow, and I didn’t want to mow the grass. You know, all of the basic housekeeping things I didn’t want to do anymore by myself,” said Mitchell.

During their 57-year marriage, Roger and Joyce traveled the world together. But they also talked about where they would settle down when the time came to do so. Making those plans proved to be a blessing for their four daughters.

“I think they were probably in their early 70’s when they started talking about it seriously and visiting places,” daughter Susan Mitchell Smith recalls. “At that point, they had some health issues, but it wasn’t looming, so they could look at these places with a different eye.”

Karli Urban, MD, a geriatrician with University of Missouri Health Care, said it’s important to get your legal paperwork in order before there’s a crisis situation.

“I encourage people to look at it not so much as a depressing thing to do, but more of a great way to make your wishes known to your loved ones,” said Urban.

That discussion paid off for the Mitchells.

“I think she took to it so well and so quickly that I never did worry about her here, and I saw her happy,” said daughter Laura Mitchell.

While Joyce Mitchell found happiness at Tiger Place, many families elect to care for loved ones in the home. It can, however, sometimes lead to additional stress for the caregiver.

According to AARP, most caregivers spend at least 24 hours per week taking care of a loved one. One in five reports a high level of physical strain, and two in five consider it emotionally stressful.

If you are currently caring for a loved one, or if you are considering it, MU Health Care is offering a Family Caregiver Conference on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center. Topics will include compassion fatigue, how to identify delirium, advanced care planning advice, how to find the best eldercare, tips for advance healthcare directives and understanding capacity and competency.

For more information, click here or call (573) 882-8792.

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