by Rev. Peter Stimpson

For those dealing with a loved one suffering from a chronic, debilitating disease, such as ALS, Alzheimer’s or cancer, it can be an overwhelming experience. For instance, imagine yourself caring for a parent or spouse suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or cancer, as you labor in exhaustion while watching their memory or health gradually fading, leaving you wondering how to cope when you see their life slipping through your fingers.

Caring for someone with such diseases poses tremendous challenges emotionally, physically, and financially. Caregivers are subject to high levels of chronic stress, and often neglect their own self-care. I myself, while caring for my wife of 30 years when she was dying over a three-month period, lost 20 pounds without even knowing it, only realizing it when my pants fell off while taking out the garbage one evening!

As the baby boomers of our culture continue to age, the issue of caregiving for aging spouses and parents looms ever larger. We need to draw attention to the issue, and to have organizations prepare services that address this growing need.

That is why we are having the conference entitled, “Nurturing the Nurturer” on Saturday, January 15, from 9 a.m. to noon at the YWCA at 59 Paul Robeson Place, Princeton. Caregivers who attend will be nurtured by many ideas on coping from local professionals, such as our keynote speaker, Dr. Teena Cahill, who will speak about the need to help people switch from a model of “Care Giving” to “Care Partners.”

Attendees will also learn of the many local services available to them. For instance, the Princeton Senior Resource Center has a Caregivers Support Group, and Trinity Counseling Service offers counseling to caregivers who feel overwhelmed by the stress that they are experiencing.

And, wanting to nurture the body as well as the soul, we shall have some great food generously provided by Bon Appetit. Those who like more information about the day, or would like to attend this free conference, can call 609-497-2100 or look at www.ywcaprinceton.org.

Rev. Stimpson is executive director of the Trinity Counseling Service, 22 Stockton Street, Princeton. 609-924-0060. www.trinitycounseling.org

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