By Melanie Patterson

The North Jefferson News

Those who are caring for terminally ill family members will soon have somewhere to go for support.

Angela Bush of Corner is starting a caregivers support group this month at the Morris Community Center.

The group will be sponsored by Life Care Hospice. Based in Cullman, Life Care also has a drop site in Fultondale where chaplains, home-health aids, nurses and other staff can do paperwork.

Bush, a volunteer coordinator for Life Care, is starting the group partly because of personal reasons.

“My main purpose is that my mother is a caregiver,” said Bush. Her father, Frank Odom, was diagnosed with cancer about three years ago. Although the disease went into remission for six months, it has returned.

Bush’s mother, Tiney, cares for her husband all day, every day.

“She never gets out,” said Bush. “I know she needs it (a support group). That’s the driving force behind it.”

Even though Tiney Odom stays busy taking care of her husband, she has offered to do what she can to help with the support group, according to Bush.

Bush said that attending a support group helps caregivers focus on something besides their own home, even if only for an hour or two.

“People don’t think about what (caregivers) have to go through, really,” said Belinda Southern, community relations coordinator for Life Care Hospice.

As a long-time hospice worker for different companies, Southern has witnessed what caregivers go through.

“You have caregivers who are taking care of people all the time,” she said.

Many caregivers even have to quit their jobs in order to care for a parent, spouse or other loved one.

Even though most hospice expenses are funded through Medicaid, Medicare, private insurance or contributions, Southern said there are no funds allotted for caregivers.

She said she finds hospice work rewarding because it meets the needs of so many people, including caregivers.

“We not only take care of the patients’ needs, but caregivers too,” she said. “My heart is more with caregivers because they’re there all the time.”

Southern said most people don’t know that Life Care and other hospice companies stay in touch with caregivers for 13 months after their loved one dies.

Life Care services for caregivers include:

• providing a volunteer to sit with a patient while the caregiver runs errands

• organizing a youth group or other group to cut grass or do other chores

• providing someone to go into the home to cut the patient’s or caregiver’s hair

• providing light house cleaning

• having a volunteer visit the caregiver just for companionship

All of these services for caregivers are free of charge.

The support group that Bush is starting is an extension of Life Care’s services.

The group begins March 17. It will be held every third Monday of the month, 6 p.m., at the Morris Community Center.

For more information, call Bush at (205) 602-6602.

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