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Caregivers Community Network plans virtual visits for Fall

The program normally has JMU students visit the care-receiver, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students will visit both the caregiver and care-receiver virtually this fall.
Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 4:24 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — Since 2001, the Caregivers Community Network, or CCN, has worked to give local caregivers a chance to take care of themselves. For the past few years, they have teamed up with the Valley Program for Aging Services to partner families with JMU students through a one-credit course.

This program class trains the students so they could visit their partnered family, to allow the caregiver to take a break.

“These students are beautiful people that are so fully engaged in this experience,” Caregivers Community Network Coordinator Kathy Guisewite said. “And a lot of times they’re very nervous at the beginning, and then as they go along and build these relationships, they just automatically fall in love with these dear ones.”

The program normally has students visit the care-receiver, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, students will visit both the caregiver and care-receiver virtually this fall. These visits will promote socialization and self-care.

Guisewite says that since the pandemic started, students themselves have had to stay home and have gotten a better appreciation for the program.

“They gained such a greater insight as to the detriments of social isolation, and how we need to continue to work hard to support the families that are doing this good work,” Guisewite said.

During the hour-long, weekly virtual visits, students will go through deep breathing exercises, self-compassion and gratitude practices, as well as offer the opportunity to just laugh and talk.

According to Guisewite, when a caregiver is asked what they need most, the most common response is “a break,” and this program looks to give them that opportunity.

According to the CDC's latest research, as of August 19, 2020, 11% of U.S. adults considered suicide in June of 2020, and 30% of those adults are unpaid caregivers of adults. Guisewite followed this statistic by emphasizing how taxing being a caregiver is, saying many older adult caregivers frequently die before who they're caring for due to the overall stress and workload.

Something CCN had not been able to do in the past, but now can through the virtual setting of the program, is tend to caregivers and their families all over Virginia, and not just in Harrisonburg and Rockingham.

For more information, or to apply for the program as a caregiver, visit www.vpas.info or email Kathy Guisewite at kathy@vpas.info

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