SOUTH PORTLAND/CAPE ELIZABETH — Building Better Caregivers is a free six-week workshop, starting on July 26, where care providers in differing situations can meet to discuss similar problems, solutions and techniques.

The workshop is offered by Healthy Living for ME. According to a Healthy Living news release, “Community Integrated Health Network supporting all five of Maine’s Area Agencies on Aging and other Community Providers for the delivery of an array of programs.”

The Building Better Caregivers program, meeting virtually once a week through July and August, is available to anyone in a caregiving role, whether formal or informal, said Jen Paquet, a training manager with Healthy Living for ME. This includes people who do not live with their care partner, like a person with elderly parents in a nursing home or assisted living facility.

“There are a combination of techniques used throughout the class,” Paquet said. “There are two leaders and class sizes are usually between eight and 16 participants. It’s two and a half hours each session. We meet once a week, but the class is made up of different types of activities. There are mini-lectures, discussion, problem-solving, brainstorming, a sharing-type activity.”

Participants will be able to have discussions, which can be a valuable part of the program, Paquet said.

“Someone might be there because their care partner has a traumatic brain injury, and another person has parents who has Alzheimer’s and maybe somebody’s spouse is dealing with PTSD — although the circumstances may be different, a lot of the things we’re going through are all very similar, which is why programs like this work, finding that community of other people who know what you’re going through and being in a space that is non-judgmental,” she said.

Team leaders will go over primary topics during each session, Paquet said. Participants will go over stress management and how to find assistance both in and out of the home.

“One of the biggest components we do is track, discuss and reframe difficult care partner behaviors, so identifying triggers, brainstorming and discussing redirection techniques,” she said. “Managing care partner behaviors is a big piece of that.”

The workshop will also cover legal issues, like power of attorney, Paquet said.

“(We talk about) what that means and what are the different types of power of attorney and of course, we’re not lawyers or anything like that and we don’t get into the nitty gritty of the details, but we do offer high-level overviews for what these things mean,” she said. “What we do is essentially give people information so they can make decisions for what they want to do now and what they will need to do in the future, not only for their own quality of life but for their care partner’s as well.”

Each week, participants will create an action plan and set goals for themselves, Paquet said.

Registration is required for participation. People can call 1-800-620-6036 or email [email protected] The upcoming workshop will take place on Mondays, July 26 through Aug. 30 from 1:30 to 4 p.m. over Zoom.

Every participant will receive a free textbook that they can keep after the class ends, Paquet said.

Besides the Building Better Caregivers Workshop, Healthy Living for ME has a variety of programs that all Maine residents can participate in, she said.

“We’re creating a culture of love, where prevention and wellness are the norm,” Paquet said. “Our programs give you the tools you need to take back control, control of your life and manage in a way that works best for you. We offer a variety of programs. There really is something for everyone.”

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