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Caring for the caregivers

Caring for a loved one who can’t care for himself can sometimes feel like a full time job. It can also feel kind of lonely.

That’s where Farmington’s new caregivers support group comes in. Since last October, the group has met monthly. They have dinner and conversation, and they hear from a speaker who can help them deal with some of the issues they face.

The group has been supported by many of Farmington’s churches, but it started more than a year ago with a conversation at St. Michael’s. Back in November of 2014, a group at that church came up with the idea of offering a dinner that would give caregivers a chance for a night out. Things just kind of grew from there. The group met with people at Trinity Care Center to talk about some of the needs out there.

“Our goal is to create a time and space where caregivers can get together and maybe share and socialize,” said Kenneth Nelson, a recent nursing school graduate who helps facilitate the group.

Each meeting takes place at Trinity Terrace. It starts with a 5 p.m. dinner donated by a local church. There is a half hour for socializing, and a speaker who talks about topics of interest. One month, it was about caregiver stress.

Since January, everyone who has attended the meetings has been caring for someone with alzheimers. In most cases it’s a spouse, but some are children caring for their parents.

After the presentation there are 45 minutes of informal discussion so group members can talk about issues they’ve had to deal with and offer suggestions to someone who is struggling.

Nelson said it can be beneficial to hear from people who are going through the same things you are, and to get advice from someone who is dealing with those issues in real life.

Many times caregivers deal with the fatigue of being someone’s sole source of care, or with the guilt that comes from putting a loved one into long-term care.

Participation in the group was slow to catch on. There were just two or three people at each of the first meetings, and there was just one in December. They had 10 in January, though, and 12 in February. Nelson said there is a core group of three or four and others who pop in from time to time.

Nelson said the people behind the group got a lot of encouragement early on.

“We were really anxious at first,” he said. “We were afraid no one would show up, or too many people would show up.”

The group has meetings scheduled in April and May but then will take a break for the summer. There may be informal meetings, but Nelson said it’s good to take a break. He expects to start the group again in October.

For more information about the group or to RSVP for a meeting, call Dottie Knutson at 651-463-5224 or email

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

(651) 460-6606