When you are a caregiver, taking time to care for yourself can be a huge challenge. Finding an hour or two for quiet, personal time is important for everyone, but for caregivers, setting aside this private time can become even harder. In the winter months, many caregivers feel especially isolated and even depressed, making the situation seem even more difficult.
Long-term care is an issue that affects people of all ages. This is America’s next great challenge, one that will have far-reaching implications for every generation and every corner of society. It is estimated that seven of ten people turning age 65 will need help to live independently at some point in their lives. We know that across the country, and right here in Maine, the vast majority of our residents want to live independently, and at home, as they age. In most cases, they will count on family caregivers to make that possible.
Family caregivers are the backbone of long-term care in the United States. They provide unpaid care valued at an estimated $450 billion annually. However, the number of family caregivers available to support older Americans will drop in the coming years as boomers age. Over time more people will be dependent on fewer family caregivers.
If you know someone who is a caregiver in your community, this might be just the moment when you can offer a helping hand by sharing information about available resources. For example, most communities have local services available to help coordinate care and provide assistance with meals, housekeeping, grooming or transportation. The Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 is a great place to start. Additionally, the AARP Caregiving Resource Center www.aarp.org/caregivers is an excellent site that offers an array of resources for caregivers and their families.
Let’s work together to help family caregivers in Maine.