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Prime Time | Caregivers: Time for some help?

There are at least two facts that apply to family caregivers. First, they are among the most caring and selfless people in today's world. Second, despite their intention to solely care for a family loved one, they have limitations that will take a toll on their own well-being.

Sooner or later, most families realize their need for outside help. Some wisely turn to support from day one, complementing their family caregiving efforts. Others prefer first to attempt it all on their own before eventually becoming physically and emotionally tired, leaving no other choice but to ask for some relief. Regardless of how and when the decision is reached, the family discussion next becomes, "Where can we find quality, trustworthy providers?"

Northwoods Caregivers has been providing respite care throughout the Bemidji trade area for nearly 15 years. However, although our providers (at minimum, certified nursing assistants) are competent, caring and qualified individuals, it's important to remember that you, the family caregiver is also the "personnel manager." The initial training and each day's ongoing supervision must come from you.

Your communication with the person who will be caring for your loved one in your absence is essential - not only for your loved one, but also for you to take advantage of the opportunity to relax, rest and recuperate.

If you are a family caregiver, we invite you to join us in a supportive and informative six-week course, "Powerful Tools for Caregivers." Here you will learn to reduce and manage your stress, locate helpful resources and improve your communication skills and your ability to make tough decisions in whatever caregiving role you hold. This course will be held on Tuesdays, July 17 through Aug. 21, from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Bemidji Public Library. Registration in advance is required.

To register or for more information on this course, or to find the in-home help that is most beneficial for your caregiving situation, please call us at 333-8264 or visit our website at

MISSY THOMAS is director of Care Services at Northwoods Caregivers.