Offering Care For The Caregivers

One of the toughest jobs in the world is caregiver for a loved one. The organization Share the Care aims to ease the burdens of caregivers

A knight in shining armor is not going to swoop in and remove the stress and fatigue associated with caregivers of those who are afflicted with a debilitating ailment.

“We’re going to have to do it ourselves,” says Sheila Warnock.

The founder of Share the Care, a volunteer organization designed to help caregivers of friends and family with conditions such as terminal illness, visited the island recently in hope of generating more interest in the local chapter that officially launched on Kaua’i more than a year ago.

Share the Care offers a solution to the demanding job of caregivers by providing them with volunteers who assist with various tasks so they don’t burn out.

“Caregiving touches everybody at some point in their lives,” says Warnock.

In 2012, 52 million Americans served as care-givers for family and friends older than 18 with a disability or illness, according to Family Caregiver Alliance. Taking responsibility for someone in this capacity is not an easy task, especially if the caregivers have full-time jobs and families.

Yet caregivers are often the most reluctant to ask for help, even though sharing responsibility is the key to avoiding fatigue.

“No matter what the case, a Share the Care program can help,” says Warnock.

Each volunteer brings different attributes to the table and anyone can be a part of the team.

“We adapt every family situation according to their needs,” says Tamara Jeffries, Share the Care’s regional coordinator for Lihue, Puhi and Hanamaulu. “If they don’t have family and friends, we become their family and friends.”

Jeffries is in charge of organizing her team in order to provide the best support for caregivers in the area.

She currently has some 10 regular volunteers, but it is difficult to recruit people.

“It’s about creating an incentive so people want to help,” she says.

Volunteering for the organization may seem frightening to some and the commitment overwhelming, but sometimes all that is needed might be as easy as food delivery. In addition, anyone can help at any age.

“We are trying to reduce the fear people have about it,” says Jeffries at a recent meeting at Kaua’i Hospice, the umbrella organization under which Share the Care falls.

“If everyone helped, we wouldn’t need them so much.”

In addition, there are many benefits that come from volunteering.

“You can give something to somebody,” Jeffries says. “And being a part of someone else’s life is rewarding.”

“Caregiving is one of the most incredible life-changing experiences there is,” says Warnock. “In order for us to survive and thrive, it’s through service to others.”

Share the Care originally began in 1995 on the Mainland. Since then, it has grown to 48 states and 11 countries.

Since its inception on Kaua’i, the group has assisted some 30 families.

“It’s a wonderful solution to the problem of taking care of those who are dying,” says Deborah Duda, Share the Care’s Kaua’i coordinator. “We’ve got to take care of our own.”

“Caring for and supporting one another during difficult and challenging times really strengthens the wholeness and oneness of our island community,” says Lori Miller, Kaua’i Hospice executive director. “We have tremendous resources here on Kaua’i, and I believe its people are the greatest. I am witnessing humanity at its very best. People are taking time and paying attention to neighbors in need.”

“During the tough times, you’re rowing the boat together,” says Warnock.

Share the Care serves six regions across the island. For more information, visit sharethecare.org or call Duda at 332-7668.

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