ISU Launches New Program Helping Caregivers Manage Their Own Health

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AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University has launched a new telehealth program with the mission of helping caregivers during the pandemic.

Starting next week, ISU Extension and Outreach is offering an educational program called Powerful Tools for Caregivers to teach participants how to manage their own well-being while taking care of a loved one. 

During this six-week program, participants will learn how to reduce stress, better communicate feelings, find a work-life balance, increase their ability to make tough decisions, and locate helpful resources. 

The Powerful Tools for Caregivers program will have two classes. One for those caring for adults with a chronic illness, and another for parents caring for a child with special health or behavioral needs.  

Human Science Specialist for Iowa State, Malisa Rader, said this program will also address the common mistake that caregivers make of treating a chronic illness as an acute disease. 

“The chronic condition or special health or behavioral needs doesn’t get better. This is the new normal so we need to adjust and we need to take care of ourselves through that so we can be the caregiver that we want to be,” Rader said. 

According to Caregivers.org, 40 to 70 percent of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression and about a quarter to half of these caregivers meet the diagnostic criteria for major depression. 

Rader said the goal of the program is to provide a support system for caregivers who might be struggling in isolation.  

“They find out that they’re not alone. And they’re able to connect with others who are going through very similar things or have gone through very similar things,” Rader said. “By the end of the course, you’re going to have a whole toolbox of tools for caring for yourself.” 

The telehealth Powerful Tools series is scheduled to begin on January 25th and the second series is scheduled to start on February 2nd. The program costs $35 for an individual and $40 for pairs. For more information on how to register, visit this website

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