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Georgia

Helping Caregivers Cope

Rosalynn Carter Institute offers support for those taking care of loved ones

RCI and AARP survey

Leisa Easom, executive director of the institute, said it will be "participating soon in a caregiver assessment survey with AARP Georgia to elicit valuable information regarding the needs of the caregivers of Georgia."

The namesake of the institute, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, said the mission at RCI has evolved over the years.

"Originally, the goals of the Rosalynn Carter Institute were quite general: to improve research and teaching in human development and mental health," Carter said in email statements provided by the institute in response to questions from the AARP Bulletin.

"But soon after its establishment, we discovered the enormity of the problems caregivers face. When caregivers suffer, the quality of care they're able to provide diminishes. And if they continue to be excessively burdened, they, too, may become casualties — physically, socially and psychologically — and may even require care themselves.

"Now, the mission of the RCI is to understand the caregiving process and discover new ways to assist formal and informal caregivers."

In 1990, the RCI began a volunteer organization called Georgia CARE-NET. Volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds interested in caregiving in west central Georgia met and planned how to address caregiver needs. The organization has become a CARE-NET Coalition with 12 CARE-NETS covering all of Georgia.

AARP Georgia is sponsoring a caregiving conference in Macon on Nov. 8 for the Middle Georgia CARE-NET. At other CARE-NET functions, AARP Georgia's presence has created a great avenue for increasing awareness, Easom said.

Bill Sanders is a freelance writer living in Acworth, Ga.

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