Elder Care Providers Are A Critical Resource In Our Community

For those who are managing the care of their relatives who can no longer adequately care for themselves and who are not yet ready or able to transition into an assisted living, long term care setting, we’d like to end November with a little more about National Caregiver’s Month.

There are approximately 65 million family elder care providers (caregivers) and because they give so much of their time and money to care for elder relatives in need, the National Family Caregivers Association began promoting the celebration of family caregivers in 1994. The association’s chief executive calls these devoted senior caregivers “a national treasure”…according to a recent article in The Columbian, caregivers frequently risk their jobs by taking time off to care for their relative, they use their limited resources, and often neglect their own health and well being. They are a silent population who needs to know they are not alone in their struggles.

  • One in five family caregivers moved into the same home with their relative for financial reasons.
  • Nearly 80 percent of persons who are in need of long term care instead solely depend on family and friends.
  • Nearly 50 percent of caregivers who are working have used most of their savings toward the care of their relative.
  • Caregivers spend an average of 20 hours a week providing care with 13 percent spending 40 hours or more.

These are just a sample of the staggering statistics from the association.

They say the value of the services provided by the family caregivers is estimated to be nearly double what is spent on home care and nursing home services combined. With so many ‘baby boomers’ now aging and the caregiver’s financial situations, long term care needs will only increase. According to the article, the Senate has introduced legislation this year “which would establish a federal tax credit to assist with the costs of caring for an aging family member.” Another idea is to offer a Social Security credit for relatives who are full time caregivers. As with other health systems, the philosophy is to keep individuals within their community, at the lowest level of care, for as long as possible. Funding of some sort has to somehow follow to continue to expand on community services for this population. Those services within the community include the caregiver programs, support programs, adult family homes, Assisted Living homes, assisted living retirement communities and special units to care for those with memory issues and Parkinsonism. Our community here in Vancouver and Clark County is fortunate to have a multitude of services including educational workshops for specialty groups such as Alzheimer’s. You can nearly always find these workshops in the ‘fyi’ section of The Columbian.

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