Did you know that 20 percent of adults in America are family caregivers? That means an incredible one in five of us cares for an aging parent, an ailing spouse, an adult sibling with a disability or a relative or friend who needs assistance. In Oregon alone, there are over 420,000 unpaid family caregivers.
You may not even see yourself as a “caregiver.” You may live in the same house, in a nearby town, or thousands of miles away in another state. The care involved may range from modest tasks like picking up Mom’s mail or helping with her laundry and helping Dad with the checkbook and bills or mowing the law, to heavy-duty, round-the-clock assistance so a loved one can stay in their home.
Whatever the situation, AARP Oregon wants you to know that you’re not alone and that there are many local, state and national resources that can help.
That’s why AARP Oregon is launching “Conversations in Caregiving”, said Jerry Cohen, AARP Oregon State Director.
“We are bound together by our common human experience of caring for those we care about, but caregiving is also always an intensely personal experience - truly rewarding and joyous at times, and utterly lonely and bewildering,” he said. “We are pleased to launch this interactive series and welcome caregivers – past, current and future – to tune in and raise their question or concern or share their experiences, trials, tribulations and triumphs.”
“Conversations in Caregiving” features nationally renowned gerontologist and caregiving expert Dr. Vicki Schmall. This interactive learning series will include:
- Six short video segments, each focusing on an important issue (Planning Ahead; Care of Your Body; Transitions in Care; Caring for Someone with Dementia; and Maintaining Emotional Health) (Check out the intro video now)
- Online articles on key issues, including caregiver profiles and resources for caregivers
- “Ask Vicki”, an online Q&A
- Learning opportunities, including webinars, teleconferences and community forums
“Every time the phone rings, I am worried,” says 50-something Brenda of Clackamas whose 84-year- old mother lives in Cincinnati. “I have two brothers. They live in the same state, but I am still the one Mom calls.”
Brenda is not alone. Whether caring for someone from short or long-distance, the toll on caregivers can be significant. According to a 2009 study, caregivers report medium to high level of emotional (53%), physical (30%) and financial (23%) strain.
“Stress is inherent in caregiving, and it’s unrealistic that stress can be totally avoided. Family caregivers are frequently referred to as “hidden patients,” explained Dr. Schmall. “However, help is available and I am excited to be part of this project to provide current and future caregivers the tools and resources to help them in their caregiving journey.”
Whether you are caring for someone today or anticipate doing so in the future, you are invited to submit a question or query to Vicki in our “Ask Vicki” feature. What are you worried about? What has been your greatest challenge? What do you fear the most? What has been your greatest help? What are YOUR tips and suggestions for other caregivers? We’d also love to hear your caregiving story – whether past or present. Just fill out the comment section of the form.
Don’t delay – ask your question, raise your concern or offer your best tips today. We’re here to help and to learn from each other in our caregiving journeys.
Thinking & Preparing Ahead Key for Caregiving and Long-Term Care Conversations
AARP’s Caregiving Channel
AARP Caregiver Resource Center
AARP Online Community for Caregivers
Benefits QuickLINK: Find out if you or your loved ones qualify for special financial programs
Caregiving in the U.S., 2009: A Research Report (A comprehensive survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP)
Eldercare Locator: The U.S. Administration on Aging sponsors the Eldercare Locator to help you find resources for older adults anywhere
AARP Health Channel: Look up a drug, check for interactions, search for lower cost alternatives, check a symptom or a disease condition, and explore fitness opportunities
Alzheimer’s Association, Oregon Chapter (800-733-0402)
Area Agencies on Aging