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County library hosts ‘courses for caregivers’

Workshop series navigates impact and role of caregiving

Special to The Sun: As part of the Burlington County Library’s Courses for Caregivers workshop series, caregiving consultant, caregiving educator, caregiving facilitator and dementia practitioner Deb Hallisey shows residents how to make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

The Burlington County Library System (BCLS) held a workshop for caregivers on Jan. 5, led by caregiving consultant, caregiving educator, caregiving facilitator and dementia practitioner Deb Hallisey.

Courses for Caregivers is a four-part series based on Hallisey’s book, “Your Caregiver Relationship Contract,” a practical, step-by-step guide for discussing relationship issues that arise between caregivers and their care partners.

“I think every relationship is a contract, and when you become a caregiver, all the relationships are changing in your life and so you need to renegotiate them,” Hallisey said. “By that I mean, setting boundaries, asking for help, putting together a support network and dealing with emotions.”

Titled “How to Ask For and Say Yes to Help,” Hallisey’s workshop will outline three things that make it easier to accept offered help, a “SMART” ask for help, why help is refused and how to get to ‘yes’ and ways to identify and organize your support network.

“What I want them (people) to take away from training is that, even though caregiving changes your life, you don’t have to give up control of your life nor should you,” Hallisey said. “If you take control and you set boundaries … and you ask for and say ‘yes’ to help, then what is for many people a very difficult experience, I’m convinced you can find great joy and heal relationships.”

Hallisey is the founder of Advocate For Mom and Dad, a company that offers practical advice for “what do I do?” and “where do I start?” Those interested will learn from the experience of others on how they handled challenges on topics such as legal, financial, insurance and caregiving issues. Each story includes links to resources the family found helpful as an effective advocate for their parents. 

According to its official website, Advocate For Mom and Dad’s mission is to build a community that helps families determine their best answers to the questions of “What do I do?” and “Where do I start?”

Hallisey writes on caregiving issues for adult children of aging parents, and as an advocate for caregivers, she works with them to effectively communicate with their career, other family members and the health-care system. She also has more than 25 years of experience as a consultant building and enhancing corporate training programs with Ernst & Young and Huron Consulting Group along with smaller boutique firms. 

Advocate For Mom and Dad started in 2015 when Hallisey lost her job due to taking care of her disabled mother after her father died.

“ … I wound up starting to look for a job in my discipline in structural design but my mother said to me, ‘You’ve learned so much, you should share it with people,’” Hallisey recalled. “Then I decided to start Advocate For Mom and Dad, which really started out as a blog and still is … That grew into doing consulting.”

Hallisey has also written “A Relationship Contract for Dementia Caregivers,” where she takes people through strategies, tips and worksheets on how best to form a new relationship with the person living with a progressive brain disease and others in the caregivers’ life.

“Not everybody you will care for is somebody you love,” she noted. “Sometimes you do it out of obligation, sometimes you do it because there’s no one else. If you take control of it and recognize the emotions and recognize the self awareness, you actually have the opportunity to not only enhance relationships, but to repair them.”

For more information on Courses for Caregivers, visit https://www.bcls.lib.nj.us.

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