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Caring for Sarah: Caregiving Is The Next Big Thing (And I am Not Exaggerating!)

Caregiving is a social and health care issue that has slowly emerged in the public sphere as the Baby Boomer generation has been getting older, and older individuals have increasingly expressed a preference to stay in their own homes and communities, close to family and friends, rather than in costly institutions.

It is not anecdotal. Speaking only from the vantage point of my home state, Illinois, I can say this: 3 in 4 Illinoisans ages 50 and older prefer to age independently and with dignity in their own homes and communities over all other options. One third of state residents 50+ has been a caregiver in the past; almost 20 percent (including yours truly!) is currently a caregiver; 18 percent is likely to become a caregiver in the near future. And 13 percent of the 50+ have received care from a family caregiver!

Where does this data come from?

AARP Illinois recently did a survey of Illinois registered voters 50 and older and caregiving came out as one of the top three issues likely voters are worried about, along with the economy and affordable utilities, less than three months before the General Election.

You can check out the full survey here.

Something else of note: For voters 50+, it’s critical that candidates address the need for fully funded home and community-based services. They are looking for candidates who make this issue a top priority before they head to the polls in November … and unfortunately they are not finding useful, reliable information on where politicians stand.

AARP will also soon publish voter guides, where many candidates running for office in Illinois were asked about caregiving. The idea is to provide likely voters with information about where candidates stand on this critical issue.

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Casa Central's Forum on Caregiving for Alzheimer's patients.

A few days ago I had the privilege of talking about my experience as a caregiver in front of a roomful of care workers at Casa Central, one of Chicago’s leading non-profit organizations helping older Latino residents get the programs and services they need to live independently.

Casa Central has been around for 60 years. From their headquarters in Humboldt Park they work extremely hard to fulfill their mission – Latinos are still underserved regarding their access to critical health care and social services. Without Casa their situation – at least in the Chicagoland area – would be a lot more complicated.

I was proud to talk to their audience about my caregiving experiences and about this blog. Although the forum was concentrated on Alzheimer’s – which is not one of my areas of expertise – there was a lively discussion on the impact caregiving has on the caregiver, and on how to address the issue of caregiving stress.

Thank you, Casa Central for this wonderful opportunity!

And hi from my mom, Sarah, who recently turned 88 and is in great spirits!

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With my mom, at a recent doctor's appointment.

Until next time, if you’d like to ask me a question, leave a comment or share your caregiving story please do so by using the comment box below or emailing me at gfcardenas@aarp.org

 

 

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