Celebrating the work of caregivers during the holidays

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SARASOTA – Preparing for the Holidays can be stressful, especially when you’re a caregiver for a loved one. Doctors Hospital wanted to help give caregivers a chance to relax this Holiday season with the second annual Caregivers Celebration.

For seven years, Denise Baker has been a caregiver for her mother living with dementia. She says it’s nice to be reminded you’re doing a good job.

“It’s funny because you feel a little uncomfortable for being celebrated for what you do,” Baker said. “Because you take it for granted that that’s just what you do.”

“This is a true celebration with fabulous food,” Julie Cook Downing said. “With fabulous services including free massages, Mary Kay Makeup, the ER tours of Doctors Hospital emergency room.”

President of Caregivers Comfort Julie Cook Downing says it’s important to bring caregivers together.

“So many caregivers feel that they are alone,” Cook Downing said. “And they are alone because so many caregivers don’t have the habit of reaching out for help.”

Downing says finding help is crucial for the health of the caregiver.

“The mortality rate for the caregiver is higher than that of the patient,” Cook Downing said. “The mortality rate for caregivers is 63-70% higher than for a regular person.”

Baker says that statistic has stuck with her since the first time she went to a support group.

“I have to take care of myself,” Baker said. “Or the whole ship goes down, I guess you can say.”

She says being able to talk to people that knows what she’s going through helped save her life.

“This group lets me cry,” Baker said. “Let’s me laugh, let’s me say things that nobody else understands because they’re in it with me, and because they share their struggles I don’t feel so alone.”

Baker says that support is something to celebrate.

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Samantha Sonner
Multimedia Journalist Samantha Sonner comes to the Suncoast from Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she worked as a reporter and host for KRWG TV/FM reporting on local politics, immigration, and border issues. Samantha grew up on Long Island, New York. She received her Bachelor of Science in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Syracuse University. At Syracuse, she worked at WAER, the campus NPR station and interned at television stations in Central New York. Samantha is excited for the Florida Sunshine, and to be living so close to fantastic beaches. Feel free to follow her on Facebook and Twitter for story updates and news, or to send her story tips and ideas. You can also email her at samantha.sonner@snntv.com.