Piedmont’s sixty plus programming assists caregivers

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Pictured: Paige Woodruff and her husband, Steven

For nearly 35 years, Piedmont Healthcare has helped support family members in their roles as caregivers through its Sixty Plus program. That work has been especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, which sometimes led to increased feelings of isolation for those sheltering at home while they cared for loved ones. The social workers in the Sixty Plus programs throughout the Piedmont system worked with a higher volume of patients and caregivers than they ever had over the past two years and many of the people they worked with were extremely grateful for the support during a very challenging time in their lives.

“Lynnette (Dunn, a social worker with Sixty Plus) has been a fantastic help to me. I can’t say enough about her enthusiasm and skill in directing and leading the (Dementia Caregiver Support) group as we deal with this path we are on,” said Cliff Smith. “Even during the height of this pandemic, she was able to find a park where we could sit outside, safely apart, and continue our meetings.”

Some studies suggest that one in three adults in the United States provides care to another adult as an informal caregiver. As the U.S. population continues to age and live longer with more complex and chronic conditions, that number may continue to increase. The work of the Sixty Plus and Population Health staff members helps both the patient and the caregivers navigate the challenges they are facing and connect to support.

Paige Woodruff, the manager of Population Health Care Management, always knew the work her staff did was incredibly valuable but has recently seen its effectiveness firsthand as her colleagues have helped her navigate life as a caregiver as well.

“Their support has been instrumental as I attempt to manage working full time, caring for my husband, and preparing for a big move to be closer to family,” said Woodruff. “They have really helped me manage the day-to-day and plan for the future when I am ready. The care and compassion they have shown me is unlike anything I’ve experienced in 36 years of nursing.”

Caregivers often face a lot of stress and strain and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Stress can also lead to health problems for the caregiver, so having support is vital to the overall health and wellness both for the caregiver and the patient.

“Caring for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s is a very hard job,” said Jo-Ann Whitehouse, a member of the Dementia Caregivers Support Group that meets in Peachtree City. “Lynnette helps me in so many ways, answering all of my questions and sending me helpful information. Most of all, she listens and does not pass judgment. My life is so much richer with Lynette and this group.”

For more information on Sixty Plus programs or services, visit piedmont.org/sixtyplus.