More than 100 Erie area families caring for loved ones at home or anticipating care for themselves or family members adults recently attended a special AARP Pennsylvania Caregiving Forum held earlier this month at Erie’s Blasco Memorial Library.
The event featured Elaine Ryan, vice president of State Advocacy and Strategy Integration in AARP’s Government Affairs group who lead’s AARP’s efforts to help family caregivers fill gaps in the nation’s long-term health care system. Ryan herself is an experienced family caregiver, whose commitment to the cause was recently profiled in the National Journal. State Senator Sean Wiley (D-49), Minority Chairman of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee, and Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper also participated in the program.
Highlighting the program was a panel of local experts addressing practical questions from caregivers in the audience. The local experts included Matthew Trott, Assistant Division Manager, Greater Erie Community Action Committee (GECAC) Area Agency on Aging in Erie County; Debbie Wisinski, Family Services Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Association; Caregiver Roberta Rey Yetman, President, Independent Council on Aging, Inc, and Dr. James Lin, D.O., MS, Director, LECOM Institute for Successful Aging.
Today, unpaid family caregivers provide the bulk of care for older Pennsylvanians, in part because the cost of long-term care remains unaffordable for most middle income families. Throughout Pennsylvania, more than 1.8 million family caregivers help their aging parents, spouses and other loved ones stay at home by providing assistance with bathing and dressing, transportation, finances, complex medical tasks like wound care and injections, and more. The value of this unpaid care totals about $20 billion annually.
You can watch the Erie program in its entirety by clicking here.