Saturday Event Aims To Support Caregivers Of Adults With Mental Illness
Anita Fisher has personal experience as a caregiver to someone with mental illness.
Her son, who is now 39, has schizophrenia.
As the director of education for the National Alliance for Mental Illness San Diego, Fisher will be using her personal experience to connect with other caregivers at an event on Saturday.
NAMI San Diego and the Caregiver Coalition of San Diego are hosting the event for caregivers of adults living with mental health challenges. The daylong program covers topics such as communication skills and legal issues related to mental illness, along with a workshop on how caregivers can take time to care for themselves. It is being held at the First United Methodist Church in Mission Valley.
Fisher joined Midday Edition on Thursday to talk about the challenges caregivers of those with mental illness face.
Now, you know what it's like to care for a loved one with mental illness. What are some the most difficult things caregivers experience?Thank you, yes. It is been a 17-year-old journey for a family. It's during the periods when my son was not doing as well. There are instances where we are trying to get him the treatment that he needs and sometimes he is not open to doing that. When he is doing well and he lives for -- with us, we provide a sense of caregiving. We call it the IA deal. We help them shop, we manage finances and transportation.How is caring with someone with mental Erna's great mental illness treated differently?We are not provided with the ADLs. We don't have to bathe them, feed them or dress them. We are still assisting them with daily living. That is kind of the difference. I think her period of time that we provide to caregivers is long. This is not something that has a short lifespan attached to it. We are doing it for a longer period of time. There is actually a study that was done by the national alliance on caregiving. They interviewed 1600 families who are caregivers. I will take a moment to tell you some of the statistics. 80% were female, they are usually caring for a relative, half are caring for a adult son or daughter. Most are between the ages of 45-64. Most of the family members being cared for were under the age of 40. Almost half lived in the same household. Is about 45% or they lived within 20 miles of their caregiver. Because it is not traditional, they live semi-independent. But the family is still involved in making sure finances, helping them shop and some of things I listed before.When you know that your neighbor is taking care of sick relatives, you will try to help them, maybe you will bring over food, do people who are caring for their loved ones with mental illness, today experience that same kind of support from the community?Unfortunately not. We say that mental illness is not a Castrol illness. When you hear about someone is been diagnosed with cancer, they know that caregiving is going to be involved from their churches, their committee surrounds them with support. Often times that does not happen due to the stigma with mental illness.Can a loved one having mental illness make caregivers withdraw?Absolutely. Sometimes we do feel isolated because we are not embraced. This conference was a full -- very much appreciated. I knows that there were no one at the table the provided services for families of caregivers I people live with mental illness. That was just an indicator that sometimes I don't think people thought of of us as caregivers.Sometimes people with mental illness have confrontations with law enforcement. That must be one of the greatest fears that caregivers have.Yes, law enforcement is the first responders on mental health challenged calls. There are no other agencies or entities that will respond. Law enforcement will respond along with the clinician, if available. I want to give some credit and praise to the program, early on, we are now part of the training where there is a panel where we speak directly to the law enforcement officers being trained to handle those calls. Is a panel of family members and individuals with life experience with that situation. I am grateful that we are able to share. They look at us and see that this is a family. It is here in San Diego. We are making great strides into making these calls safer for both sides.I know that legal issues are part of the agenda on this caregiver day on Saturday. What are some of the other things that again we spoken about this event?With this being our first event, we want to make them feel special. Often times, we put a lot of our energy into our loved ones. They will get little reminders and tips about some of the training that we do it Nami. We learn about Robin solving, we learned about communication skills and we get some overview of that and remind them. Again we want them to meet each other. They will be in a room with over 100 people. We have a waitlist as well. We know that this is something that was needed. They will build a network and learn about things that we put to the side. We have to plan for the future with our loved ones. We have to plan for that. That is part of this conference. We have someone speaking about that.The day for caregivers takes place this Saturday at the First United Methodist Church in Mission Valley. I've been speaking to the director of education of the San Diego chapter of Anita Fisher. Thank you.