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Caregiver Support Programs

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daughter feeds mother, Pat Franta found services to ease some caregiving tasks AARP Ohio

Juggling a job and her mother’s care took Pat Franta, of Strongsville, to the breaking point. She eventually found services to ease some caregiving tasks. AARP Ohio wants others to get similar information. — Andrew Spear

When Pat Franta's then 91-year-old mother could no longer get out of bed because of emphysema and severe arthritis, Franta moved into her mother's Strongsville home and became her caregiver.

She spent hours on the telephone finding help — home care aides, home-delivered meals and transportation to medical appointments — so her mother would be taken care of while Franta worked her full-time job.

It took Franta, 59, to the breaking point.

"I'm a nurse practitioner," she said. "I should have known where the resources I needed for full-time home care were, but I didn't."

Eventually Franta learned about the caregiver support program provided by the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging (AAA) in Cleveland.

Using materials the agency provided and with the help of an AAA care coordinator, she found the necessary resources to support her mother at home rather than having to move her to a nursing facility.

Franta is now telling people her age about the program because "they may not need help from them now, but that can change in the blink of an eye."

Most caregivers are unpaid

Family and friends provide about 80 percent of the care for older individuals, said Jane Taylor, AARP Ohio state director.

Nearly 1.7 million Ohio residents helped care for a frail adult family member in 2009, according to an analysis (pdf) by the AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI). The economic value of that care, PPI estimated, was $17.5 billion.

About one in seven Ohio residents is 65 or older; by 2030 that will increase to nearly one in four, according to Miami University's Scripps Gerontology Center in Oxford.

As the state ages, more services to help family caregivers will be needed, Taylor said.

To help address that growing need, AARP Ohio is launching a program for caregivers.

On Nov. 13, AARP Ohio will begin making automated calls to about 130,000 members who have expressed an interest in caregiving issues.

Next: Programs caregivers can tap into. »

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Video Extra

AARP Chief Executive Officer Barry Rand and AARP Executive Vice President Deb Whitman discuss the experience of caregiving and AARP's resources for caregivers.

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