health: Caring for the caregiver: FOCUS class could help overcome challenges
As someone who has lived through cancer, I'm pretty sure that caregivers have earned a special place in heaven. I know they stop their lives in order to help us rescue ours.
Caregivers can be spouses, partners, parents, children, brothers, sisters or friends. Whoever they are, they unselfishly enlist as we patients get drafted; their needs are just great, yet they've all too often been overlooked.
That's changing, and now no one needs to go it alone, thanks to a remarkable program which is the first of its kind to address the special needs of caregivers and help them navigate the terrain of caregiving.
Called FOCUS, the program was developed by Dr. Laurel Northouse, professor of nursing and co-director of the Socio-Behavioral Program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. For more than 30 years, Dr. Northouse has been studying the impact of cancer on families and is recognized as an internationally known expert.
FOCUS is an acronym which stands for:
The free six-week program is offered at the Cancer Support Community of Greater Ann Arbor (formerly The Wellness Community of Southeast Michigan). Each week, the person with cancer and a loved one will gather with others for about two hours to learn more about living through and beyond cancer.
The next program begins on June 15, but other start dates are available.
Bonnie Dockham, the Community's Program Director, would be happy to tell you more. She can be reached at 734-975-2500 or by email.
UMCCC's Thrive magazine featured the program in an article which highlighted couples who had participated in it.
Last fall, Dr. Northouse shared some valuable tips for caregivers and talked about the FOCUS program on a webcast that I hosted. It's a great preview of how this program can help caregivers overcome the challenges. Listen:
FOCUS is a University of Michigan Research study made possible by a grant from the Rosalynn Carter Institute of Caregiving and the Johnson and Johnson Foundation.
Next Friday: The web-savvy patient
Previous installments of Candid Cancer are archived here.
Betsy de Parry is the author of The Roller Coaster Chronicles, a book about her experience with cancer and the shorter, serialized version she wrote for annarbor.com. Find her on Facebook or email her.