Who is a Caregiver? What is the Powerful Tools for Caregivers Program?

Posted on March 8th, 2019

Who is a caregiver?  Simple, a caregiver is a person who cares for someone else.  As kids we cared our pets.  As teenagers we cared for other people’s kids by babysitting.  As adults we raised and cared for our families.  Struggles, stress, frustrations, and worries were all a part of the caregiving.

Special situations occurred with diagnoses of cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, MS, Dementia, and just the normal aging process.  Added stress, anxiety, questions unanswered, are even more prevalent.

The Powerful Tool for Caregiver program is a program designed for CAREGIVERS who are taking care of loved ones with acute disorders or long-term chronic disorders.  If a Caregiver doesn’t care for him/her self they may be unable to care for their loved one.

A caregiver can be a spouse, son/daughter, grandchild, friend, or relative.    You may be a 24/7 caregiver, a daily “check on” caregiver, or a long distance caregiver.  You could be a friend who visits weekly with a neighbor whose loved one lives a long distance away.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a program designed to help the caregiver take care of themselves.  It teaches the importance of paying attention to their health, their eating, and their emotions.  Participants are given specific “tools” that help to communicate effectively with others in a way that makes situations productive instead of being full of anger and accusations.  It is a program that shows them that they are important and that God loves them dearly and cares for them.

Lutheran Family Service have master-teachers that have trained seven Class Leader teams across the state to provide classes for those in need.  These teams can come directly to your congregation and present the six-week program to groups of 4 to 12 participants.   Locations of the teams are:  Spirit Lake, Sioux City, Des Moines, Ft. Dodge, Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities.  Class leaders can meet with congregations and give an introductory to the program is these ways:   one-on-one with congregation pastors or share at an Adult Sunday School class. They could present at Circuit Pastor meetings, LWML meetings, or LWML Rallies.

The Powerful Tools for Caregiver program is a six-week 1 ½ hour class.  Class titles are as follows:

Class #1: Taking Care of You

Class #2:  Identifying and Reducing Personal Stress

Class #3:  Communicating Feelings, Needs, and Concerns

Class #4:  Communicating in Challenging Situations

Class #5:  Learning from our Emotions

Class #6:  Mastering Caregiving Decisions

Participants are asked to attend each of the classes as they build upon each other.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers give participants a set of “tools” that they can use.  These tools include:

–Tools for reducing personal stress

–Tools for changing negative self-talk

–Tools for Communicating your feelings and needs to others

–Tools for setting limits and asking for help

–Tools for dealing with emotions such as anger, guilt, and depression

–Tools for making caregiving decisions

Following each class participants create an Action Plan.  They set a short-term goal that they wish to complete during the next week.  They then list the actions that they will take to complete this goal and also set a confidence level for completing the goal.  At the beginning of each class we report on our Action Plans. This helps to build confidence in setting goals that are specific, and reachable.  If the plan does not go as predicted we have a Solution-Seeking Approach that we work through as a group to help with those having difficulty in completing their goals.  At the close of our sixth class, participants work to set a three-month goal.  Actions are then set that will help to complete this goal.

I personally participated in the Powerful Tools for Caregiver classes through the ISU Extension Service because of the frustrations of dealing with my mother’s dementia.   It is exactly the same class that Lutheran Family Service Teams teach except we are able to add a “Christian” aspect to the class.  The classes helped me tremendously in communicating with my family, provided resources to help me educate myself about my mother’s disorder and gave me the tools I needed to take care of myself and my health issues.  I had the ability to communicate with doctors, nurses, staff, and family about my mother’s issues.   Following the class participants started a support group.  Even though caregiver rolls have changed we still are getting together monthly after five years.

WE ENCOURAGE the beginning of a Support group following classes.  Guidelines have been written to help participants/congregations in starting a support group.    Team leaders will be happy to come and present at the group but are not able to lead the group themselves.

My mom is the reason for writing this blog and talking about the importance of the Powerful Tools for Caregiver program.  She passed away 1 ½ years ago at 86 after 15 years with dementia.    My dad is 93 and doing great living in an independent living facility.  Through caring for my mom he now has “many” people that he visits and “hauls” around at his facility.

If you are interested in information on the classes, or visiting with someone about the classes, please contact me at:  powerfultools@lutheranfamilyservice.org     or my home phone:  515-352-3548   You can contact Corry, my assistant, at siouxcityoffice@lutheranfamilyservice.org

We are always interested in increasing the number of Class Leader Teams.  If you would be interested in participating in training and becoming a Class Leader, please contact the above information as well.

Blessings to you on your Caregiving journey.  Always remember that Jesus is there to give us strength and comfort.  Relying on Him for help through worship, prayer and daily devotions are essential.

Jesus spent His whole life caring for others.

“Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yolk upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”   Matthew 11:28-30


Kathy Geisler, Coordinator

Powerful Tools for Caregivers

Lutheran Family Service