In Montana there are over 160,000 caregivers that care for family members with activities
of daily living due to age, disability or family dislocation. Caregivers often report
more stress, anxiety, decreased well-being and health as a result of no respite time
away or healthy well-being habits. The goal of MSU extension healthy caregiving initiative
is to provide research-based education and respite opportunities for caregivers in
Montana’s communities. These programs consist of learning how to care for oneself
and improve their well-being while being a healthy caregiver. The Powerful Tools for Caregivers program is one such program that can provide tools to navigate the challenges of
caregiving. Additionally, new programs will identify specific caregiver resources
from state partners that include Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association and other agencies from Montana. Check back frequently to go through new opportunities
to live as a healthy caregiver or contact MSU extension for more information.
A recent attendee of a Respite Retreat in Anaconda Deer Lodge County had this to say:
MSU’s caregiver retreat showed importance of taking care of yourself
James S. Rosien
Walking the Beat
It’s the little things that sometimes have the biggest impact.
Whether it's a butterfly flapping its wings in China causing a hurricane in the Caribbean
(and no, that doesn't literally happen; the Butterfly Effect is a metaphor for small
causes having large effects), or in my case, turning a little glass jar, some water,
clear glue and blue and green glitter into a much-needed stress reliever, the small
stuff that often goes overlooked can be of greater importance than we might realize.
Okay so now that I've completely lost you, dear reader, especially with that glitter
talk, let me explain: On Wednesday, yours truly took a rare half-day in the middle
of the week to take part in a little retreat for caregivers that was offered at Hearst
Free Library by the Montana State University Extension program designed to help people
who are putting so much of their own selves into caring for others that they often
don't take the time to take care of themselves.
When I first was informed of this retreat a month or so ago by Kayleen Kidwell our
own local MSU Extension agent, I used it as a springboard to write a few thoughts
on the importance of self-care. As is my wont, however, I approached it from a detached
analytical angle with the usual philosophic references, in this case to Albert Camus,
and vague allusions to my past. Yet reality, as it often does, has a way of diverging
I will readily admit to some skepticism when the essential oils made their appearance
early on at the retreat (Jean-Paul Sartre's "Existence precedes essence" slogan always
comes to mind whenever I hear about essential anything – and yes I just had to shoehorn
another philosophic reference in), followed by trepidation at the thought of doing
anything with glitter and glue. Did I get sent back to grade school or something?
Yet funny enough the scent of distilled cedar brought me back to exploring the Evergreen
forests of my childhood in western Washington, which may well have paved the way for
my eventually being receptive to becoming part of the glitterati. But what I really
think happened is that I found something to affix my attention to and take my mind
off my sources of stress, however briefly, and yet so much so that my shiny little
snowglobe substitute has found a welcome spot on my desk.
And I think that's kind of the point of self-care and all the little things that need
doing just to keep ourselves going as we live our lives for others – and yet often
go overlooked, until our minds and bodies demand that we pay them some very much-needed
attention. Thankfully there are still people and programs in our society that's constantly
on the go who are here to help us hit the breaks from time to time.
If you're one of the many caregivers who would benefit from a bit of self-care but
missed out on the retreat this week, Kayleen said that the program's developer, Dan
Koltz, will be back in Anaconda and the Tri-County area the week after Thanksgiving,
and while I can't guarantee there'll be glitter I'm certain that whatever small things
are in store will have a outsized impact on those who need it. So if you're at all
interested in learning more or signing up, give the ADLC MSU Extension office a call
at (406) 563-4035.
Montana Caregiver Respite Retreat Program Dates for 2023/2024
All Respite Retreat are held from 10AM - 3PM
Sept 14th Kalispell, Hampton Inn
Sept 15th Polson, Kwataqnuk Hotel and Casino
Oct 5th Broadus, Community Center
Oct 6th Miles City, Sleep Inn
Oct 31st, Glasgow, Cottonwood Inn and Suites
Nov 13th Red Lodge, site TBD
Nov 14th Billings, Hope United Methodist Church
Nov 29th, Deer Lodge, County Meeting Center
Nov 30th, Phillipsburg, Granit County Museum
Dec 1st, Anaconda,The Forge Hotel
Spring 2024 Locations, Dates TBD:
For more information on Gerontology Programs at MSU and MSU Extension please contact:
Dan Koltz, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Health and Human Development
Gerontology Specialist, MSU Extension
317 Reid Hall
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717-3370