Coping with care giving may be more about what you think than what you do. The Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services is collaborating with the University of Wisconsin to understand what triggers caregivers’ stress, so that professionals can make caring for a loved one easier.
The new program is called TCARE, Tailored Caregiver Assessment and Referral, and it’s changing the way that aging services organizations communicate with families. In a traditional model, professionals might focus solely on an older parent who requires care.
An adult child, however, may suffer from a variety of ills, including depression, isolation and interpersonal conflict with siblings. A professional trained in the six-step TCARE model works to identify and address the caregiver’s needs so that the individual can more effectively care for himself as well as others.
“TCARE research shows that use of the model can increase confidence and reduce stress,” said Dr. James J. Bulot, Director of DHS’ Division of Aging Services. “Many participating caregivers are thriving, even in the face of heavy care giving demands.”
TCARE has discovered that stress and burden are heavily affected by self perception. Understanding how a caregiver defines their identity, what they expect of themselves, and whether they feel they are meeting self-imposed expectations is key to creating a customized, sensitively designed care plan for a loved one.
Four states helped the University of Wisconsin’s Dr. Rhonda Montgomery conduct studies on TCARE protocols — Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington. Georgia’s Division of Aging Services manages the state’s TCARE research contributions, in collaboration with its 12 Area Agencies on Aging.
Georgia’s work was featured in the June issue of “The Gerontologist,” a national aging publication. And, in Washington, D.C., Division of Aging representatives recently presented Georgia’s program findings to other states at a meeting hosted by the U.S. Administration on Aging.
This summer, Georgia’s aging network will launch TCARE statewide by training care managers to use the six-step model in their work with consumers.
For more information about caregiver support and other services for older adults and their families, call the Division of Aging Services toll-free at (866) 55-AGING (552-4464) or visit http://www.aging.dhs.georgia.gov.