Aging Together: Caregiving — Learn how now

On Thursday, Oct. 21, the Rappahannock Eldercare Coalition of Aging Together and Culpeper Regional Hospital will sponsor a free workshop for caregivers.

The 90-minute workshop starts at 6 p.m. at the Washington Volunteer Fire and Rescue fire hall and is preceded by a 5 p.m. “meet and greet” information session with local service providers.

At the workshop, health professionals will guide participants through a variety of crucial caregiving skills and understandings: such hands-on care as bed turning and transfers; physical therapy; wound care; physical safety and fall prevention; how to handle emergencies; safely managing medications and oxygen; coping with confusion and dementia; and finding help and information.

Information on where to join a caregiver support group, where to get first aid or CPR training and forms to post on the refrigerator in case of an EMT visit will also be available.

Organizations offering information at 5 p.m. include hospices, home healthcare companies, Roberts Home Medical and Simple Comforts, a Warrenton business specializing in adaptive products for the elderly or disabled.

The workshop organizers include Sharon Pyne from the Rappahannock Department of Social Services; Jennifer Matthews, professor of nursing at Shenandoah University; and registered nurse Judy Reidinger, of Sperryville. Pyne and Reidinger are members of the Rappahannock Eldercare Coalition of Aging Together, which works to improve quality of life for the county’s older adults.

Other health professionals participating in the workshop include physical therapist Anne Williams of Mountainside Physical Therapy and registered nurse Vickie Foley, a manager at Fauquier Hospital’s wound care clinic. Culpeper Regional Hospital is providing financial support for the workshop.

Organizers also hope to reach those of every age who may not be caregivers yet but who very likely will play that role someday. Anyone who might even temporarily have to take on family caregiving responsibilities someday can benefit from attending.

As an experienced nurse and medical educator, Matthews recognizes how crucial caregiving skills are in helping families “age in place” instead of moving into nursing homes or other facilities. “It’s inspiring to know that people want to learn these skills and maintain their loved ones in the warm environment of home,” she said. “There’s no place like home! But people need that knowledgeable support, the assurance they they’re doing the right thing.”

Family caregiving is an unusually challenging and demanding task, but it is certainly not a rare one. Like millions of people across America, many of our neighbors here in Rappahannock County have a loved one at home who needs daily assistance because of advanced age, dementia, cancer or some other debilitating condition.

Even with the help of paid professionals and the support of other family members, the family caregiver is constantly challenged physically and mentally, emotionally and spiritually. New skills and information are required. High degrees of stress can become one’s “new normal,” as the varied demands of caregiving take central place in a person’s life.

For more information or to reserve space at the Oct. 21 workshop, contact Sharon Pyne at 540-675-3313.

Aging Together is a community partnership taking action now to improve quality of life for the growing population of older adults.  Join our local team meeting at 1 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month at the Rappahannock Library. For more information contact Larry Stillwell at 540-675-2531 or, or visit

Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 544 Articles
Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.