The next meeting of the Crawford County Caregiver Support Group will take place at Crawford County Memorial Hospital (CCMH) on Thursday.

Brooke Tasler, a registered dietitian at CCMH, will be the featured guest.

She and a dietetics intern will speak about how caregivers can maintain a healthy diet at home.

“Some caregivers were never responsible for meals prior to their loved ones falling ill or becoming unable to perform those normal duties,” said Dana Neemann, CCMH nurse director of education and patient experience.

Neemann is one of the organizers of the caregiver support group.

Other caregivers may have difficulty navigating beyond food that is convenient, but not healthy, she said.

“Brooke is going to focus on what it looks like to maintain healthy eating but also what works with your situation,” Neemann said.

While diet will be the topic of discussion provided by Tasler, any and all questions are welcome.

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“We always have a question and answer section,” Neemann said. “We provide a hot topic in the beginning and then we mostly let the conversation flow.”

The meeting is open to anyone.

“Even if they’re not interested in diet, it gives them an hour a month to get out of the house and come network and be with other caregivers,” she said.

“They can talk about their situation or ask questions, whether it be any legalities, caring-type behaviors, or logistics. They can ask any questions that they want.”

Individuals representing a wide variety of community resources will also attend the meeting, including Crawford County Memorial Hospital, Crawford County Veterans Affairs/General Relief, Crawford County Home Health & Hospice, Angels Care Home Health, St. Croix Hospice, and Reed Place Senior Living.

“We are fortunate in our community to be able to partner with so many services,” Neemann said.

“We are listening to those who are either new to the caregiver role or thought they were alone. Our goal with the caregiver support group is to connect individuals to services that they might need but also to let them know that they’re not alone. Sometimes when you’re in that role you’re so busy just trying to figure out how to care for your loved one that you forget to care for yourself, and you feel like you’re on an island.”

“You’re not alone,” she said.

Neemann said the group formed when Crawford County VA/General Relief Director Louise Galbraith encountered three veterans who had received serious diagnoses within a short time.

“Their spouses were overwhelmed, and they didn’t know how to navigate what their role was now because it was their new normal,” Neemann said.

Neemann was asked to participate in the group because of her role at the hospital – and because she has caregiver experience with her parents.

Her family and grandparents all live on the same farm, and they support one another. “We are fortunate enough to have one another but not everyone has that,” Neemann said.

Last month, Neemann spoke on the topic of what it means to be a caregiver.

“I really focused on letting people know it’s okay to establish healthy boundaries with your loved ones – because you can’t be a caregiver if your cup is empty,” she said. “We have a lot of caregivers in our community that are burning that candle at all ends but don’t realize that it’s okay to get help.”

In March, Iowa Judicial District 3 Judge William Ranniger spoke to the group.

“He came and spoke about how to go about getting a power of attorney and a living will, and what that looks like because a lot of people don’t know or have never encountered that before,” Neemann said.

The Crawford County Caregiver Support Group is also a place for caregivers to connect with one another.

“That way they have that other person as a lifeline,” she said.

The meeting will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. on Thursday in conference room D at CCMH.