There are only four kinds of people in the world: Those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, those who will need caregivers.” ~ Rosalynn Carter
By Sherrie Norris
The Family Caregiver Support Program of the High Country Area Agency on Aging continues to offer much-needed services and support for local caregivers, according to Amber Chapman, the agency’s Family Caregiver and Health Promotions Specialist.
“Our goal is to provide caregivers with the needed support to reduce depression, anxiety, and stress and enable them to provide care longer, thereby avoiding or delaying the need for costly institutional care,” Chapman said. Referring to “the old saying,” Chapman stressed, “If you are not a caregiver right now, you either were or you will be.”
Currently, Chapman said, statistics indicate that more than 65 million people — 29% of the United States population — provide care for chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend on average 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.
“Caregivers are the single most important factor in keeping an older adult in their home, instead of in a long-term care facility,” Chapman added. “Caregivers do so much and carry an immense amount of pressure, stress, and anxiety every single day. As a caregiver, we want to make sure that you do not feel helpless or lost. Our main goal with the High Country Area Agency on Aging Family Caregiver Support Program is to help in any way we can to take some of the stress off of the shoulders of a caregiver.”
Chapman said the program is committed to supporting caregivers with resources and information to assist the caregiving journey and provides the following services:
- Connection to resources and services
- Support groups
- In-home assessments and case management
- Educational programs
- Caregiver directed vouchers
- Services based on caregiver need
Who is a caregiver?
“A caregiver can be defined numerous ways. In general, we define a caregiver as anyone providing care and support to a loved one on a continual basis.”
You are a caregiver if you:
- Provide personal care such as toileting, bathing, dressing, assist with eating, or ambulation.
- Help with shopping, medical appointments, finances, housework and home repairs.
- Seek information and assistance in acquiring services for your loved one.
- Help your loved one manage healthcare, appointments and coordinating services while you are living an hour or more away.
- Oversee the care of your loved one while they reside in a facility.
Family caregiver support program services respite services
Respite is typically defined as a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant. “Respite for caregivers can take on many forms with the ultimate goal of helping to share in the responsibility of caregiving and providing support,” Chapman explained. “ Utilizing respite care prior to becoming exhausted, isolated, or overwhelmed is ideal and the simple anticipation of relief can greatly reduce stress and anxiety.”
In additional to Project CARE and the Lifespan Respite Program, the High Country Area Agency on Aging provides caregiver-directed vouchers. Respite vouchers are based upon availability and eligibility.
Support groups and additional services Connection to Resources & Services
The family caregiver support program will work with caregivers to connect them to resources in our community, Chapman said. “The caregiver support program can provide support and education, case management, supportive services, and referrals.”
“Caregiver support groups are a wonderful way for caregivers to provide support for one another,” she added. “Our support groups are offered throughout the region and in various settings in order to meet the needs of the group.”
Case Management & In-Home Assessments
The family caregiver support program provides in-home visits, consultation, emergency planning, and safety evaluations for caregivers and care recipients. “We understand that it is impossible to come get services at our office when caregiving-that’s why we bring the support to you!”
Educational workshops for caregivers are offered on various topics that can be directly applied to the role of a caregiver. Caregiver support and dementia awareness workshops for the general public are also available.
Dementia Friends USA is part of a global movement that is changing the way people think, act, and talk about dementia. “A Dementia Friend is someone who, through viewing a series of online videos or attending an in-person session, learns about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action. From telling friends about the Dementia Friends program to visiting someone who is living with dementia, every action counts.
“We know that it is often impossible for a caregiver to work around our schedule and travel to us. That is why we will come to you, sit down and have a conversation about your caregiving journey to determine exactly what services will help you better care for your loved one,” Chapman said.
For more information on the High Country Area Agency on Aging’s Family Caregiver Support Program, contact Chapman at 828-265-5434 ext. 113, email [email protected] or visit www.highcountryaging.org.