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Group provides help and an emotional uplift to those facing stress of providing care

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - Camie Bachmeir, left, and Sherri Overholser are long-term particpants of the local Caregiver Support Group in Prineville. The support group meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month.

Like many others who have unexpected life experiences, people who find themselves being a caregiver to someone with a chronic illness can also find themselves in need of support.

The enormity of the burden in caring for someone with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's diseases, stroke, traumatic brain injury or other long-term conditions can leave caregivers burnt out and grappling with a wide range of emotions.

A local support group for caregivers was established approximately 15 years ago, and due to the determination of several tenacious members, the group has continued its momentum, providing support for those seeking it.

Camie Bachmeir began attending the meetings about seven years ago, when she had a family member who required care after a stroke. The group was already established, and she found the meetings a source of emotional support.

"It's so helpful. You can just be yourself," Bachmeir said. She added that it's a place where attendees can voice their frustrations and stories in a safe atmosphere.

The support group meets the first and third Tuesday of each month from 10 a.m. to noon in the conference room of First Interstate Bank in Prineville. Bachmeir said that coming to the group helped her understand that other people were going though many of the same things, and they understood what she was feeling.

"We all understand each other and what we are going through," Bachmeir reflected.

She said that the group has a couple of rules: What is said there stays there, and no politics or religion.

Sherri Overholser has attended the meetings for approximately six years. She began attending when her husband was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

"It's such a broad angle that we cover," Overholser said of the group discussions.

She added that many caregivers who have joined have been at end of their patience and were overwhelmed when they started attending meetings. She continued attending the meetings after she lost her husband.

Bachmeir added that the meetings are for anyone who is a caregiver, but patients and individuals who have lost their loved ones are also welcome.

"We have a lot of people that still come to the meetings that their loved ones have passed away," she emphasized. "They come to help the new people coming in — to get through what they have gone through."

She said patients also come to the meetings, which offers a unique perspective.

"When they hear something, they may say, 'That won't work. I can tell you from my experience, that won't work,'" she said.

The group also invites professionals to talk about legal, financial and medical topics that are specific to caregivers and family members they are supporting.

Overholser added that there are many misconceptions about the role of Hospice, and a Hospice professional will soon come to speak. The group shares referrals and resources available in the community. She said this is extremely helpful for group members, whatever their current situation.

Above all, Bachmeir and Overholser emphasized that all who desire to join the group are welcome, and it is a safe place where people don't have to feel alone.

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What: Caregiver Support Group

When: 10 a.m. to noon, the first and third Tuesday of each month

Where: First Interstate Bank, 555 NW 3rd St.,

Prineville

Contact: Camie Bachmeir, 541-447-8970


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