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Stilly Senior Center adds weekly walks to caregiver support
SMOKEY POINT Krystyna Simm wants the community to know that the Stillaguamish Senior Center's family caregiver programs are still focused on supporting seniors' family members who provide unpaid care to their elderly loved ones.
"Our emphasis is on caregiver health," said Simm, the family caregiver coordinator at the Stillaguamish Senior Center. "Caregivers suffer from significant stress that takes physiological, mental and spiritual tolls on them, so we help them take care of themselves first. After all, if a caregiver falls ill, those who receive care from them are kind of out of luck."
To help caregivers take care of themselves, not only does the Stillaguamish Senior Center host support group meetings every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., but Simm also conducts medication classes by appointment.
Simm has recently begun a caregiver walking group as well, which meets Mondays starting at 10:30 a.m. on Centennial Trail, weather permitting. She cited high blood pressure, weight gain, depression and anxiety as a few of the many physical and psychological symptoms that can result from caregiver stress, which the weekly walk is designed to alleviate.
"We've been handing out free pedometers to caregivers, and the walk itself is free, but it's only for caregivers," Simm said. "We encourage them to get frequent exercise and the pedometers give them a good gauge of how much exercise they're actually getting."
Simm explained that 10,000 steps a day is the minimum recommended by heath care professionals, but conceded that it's also recommended that you gradually work your way up to those 10,000 steps on a daily basis. To that end, the caregiver walkers welcome participants of all fitness and ability levels.
"We have a tendency to say, 'Oh, I'm healthy,' but are you?" she added. "Taking care of your health is not just about diet and exercise, especially if you're a caregiver. Caregivers have to look after two people's lives their loved ones and their own.
The Stillaguamish Senior Center is located on 18308 Smokey Point Blvd. To learn more about its family caregiver programs, support groups and classes, you may contact Krystyna Simm at 360-653-4551, ext. 241.