Who is a caregiver? It’s simple! A caregiver is a person who cares for someone else.

As kids, we cared for our pets.  As teenagers, we cared for other people’s kids by babysitting.  As adults, we raise and care for our families, including our spouse and parents.  Struggles, stress, frustrations, and worries are a part of caregiving no matter the circumstance.

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 may even be a friend who visits weekly with a neighbor whose loved one lives a long distance away. Caregiving for someone with the diagnoses of cancer, Parkinson’s, MS, Alzheimer’s, other dementia, or just the normal caregiving with age can add an additional layer of stress, anxiety, and more.

Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a program designed for caregivers of all types. If a caregiver doesn’t learn also to care for him/her self, they may become unable to care for their loved one because of their own health deteriorating from that added stress.

Lutheran Family Service has master-teachers that have trained seven, Class Leader teams across the state of Iowa 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. Current team locations are:  Spirit Lake, Sioux City, Des Moines, Ft. Dodge, Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities.  Class leaders can meet with pastors, congregations, adult Sunday schools, LWML groups or more to give an introduction to the program.

The Powerful Tools for Caregiver program is a series of six, 90-minute classes held once per week.

  • 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 gives participants a set of “tools” that they can use to 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 set a confidence level for completing the goal.  At the beginning of each class participants then report on their Action Plans. This helps to build confidence in setting goals that are specific, and reachable.

I personally participated in the Powerful Tools for Caregivers classes through the ISU Extension Service because of the frustrations of caregiving for my mother as she struggled with dementia. The program is the same, but because of sponsorship by Lutheran Family Service, we are able to add a Christian perspective to the class. The Powerful Tools for Caregivers program helped me tremendously in communicating with my family, provided resources to help me educate myself about my mother’s disease, and gave me the tools I needed to take care of myself and my health issues. Following the class, participants started a support group. And even though caregiver rolls have changed since five years ago, we still are getting together monthly for fellowship and support.

Following the six-week Powerful Tools for Caregivers program, we strongly encourage the formation of a support group.  Guidelines have been written to help participants/congregations in carrying out this goal.

My mom is the reason for writing this article and for my passion of talking about the importance of the Powerful Tools for Caregivers program.  She passed away 1.5 years ago at age 86 after 15 years struggling with dementia. My dad is age 93 and doing great living in an independent living community.

If you are interested in learning more about the Powerful Tools for Caregivers program, email: powerfultools@lutheranfamilyservice.org or call 515-352-3548.

Blessings to you on your Caregiving journey. Always remember that Jesus is here to give us strength and comfort. Relying on Him for help through worship, prayer and daily devotions is 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 – Lutheran Family Service Powerful Tools for Caregivers Coordinator


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