AARP Maine and Alzheimer’s Assoc. Maine Chapter Celebrate First-Ever Designation of November as Maine Family Caregivers Month
Offer Resources to Families Looking for Support
AUGUSTA: Today, AARP Maine and the Alzheimer’s Association Maine Chapter are celebrating Maine’s designation of November as Maine Family Caregivers Month in concert with National Caregiver Month, offering resources to support family caregivers and their loved ones.
The passage earlier this year of LR 2961, a Joint Resolution to Support Family Caregivers in Maine, included this designation, which signals an opportunity to raise awareness about the pressing needs of family caregivers.
“Annually,178,000 Mainers care for a spouse, parent or other loved one to help them live safely and independently at home,” states Amy Gallant, AARP Maine Advocacy Director. “Being a family caregiver is a labor of love, but it can also take a toll financially and emotionally. Caregivers should be able to focus on caring for their loved one with access to supports and services that help them provide that care.” According to the AARP Public Policy Institute’s report, Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update, family caregivers in Maine provide 165 million hours of unpaid care annually, with an economic value of $2.22 billion statewide.
In April 2017, AARP Maine released the results from a survey of Maine caregivers. The survey revealed that Maine family caregivers believe it is important to help their loved ones live independently at home. However, the survey also uncovered many challenges for them. 59% reported using their own money to support their caregiving needs and 65% reported that they feel emotionally stressed due to their caregiving responsibilities.
The Joint Resolution also asks the state legislature to consider certain measures which will include reviewing state policies and programs for their effectiveness in addressing the needs of family caregivers and their loved ones. Of note is the fact that federal legislation, the RAISE Family Caregivers Act, requires the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers. The RAISE Act became law in March of 2018 and was endorsed by AARP.
AARP Maine offers resources for caregivers including the state-specific Caregiver Resource Guide which is available here or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The AARP Caregiver Resource Center can also provide helpful tips and tools for family caregivers of all ages.
One growing concern in Maine is the support needed by families caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease.
“Caregivers are hit the hardest by the Alzheimer’s crisis and it is growing,” explains Adam Lacher, Director of Advocacy at the Alzheimer’s Association Maine Chapter. “The 2018 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report reveals that 70 percent of care costs are borne by family caregivers directly through out-of-pocket expenses and the value of their unpaid care. There is an enormous financial, emotional and physical burden on Alzheimer’s caregivers and we are grateful for this legislation.”
The Alzheimer’s Association Maine Chapter provides individualized care consultations for anyone affected by the disease. The Chapter also offers in-depth training for family caregivers and professionals, over three dozen support groups, educational programs covering topics such as diagnosis, warning signs, communication, living with Alzheimer’s disease, and caregiving techniques. Information and referral services, care consultation, and support are available through the Chapter’s toll-free 24/7 helpline at 1-800-272-3900 and online at alz.org. All Chapter care and support services are confidential and provided free of charge.
“Particularly during the holiday season, the needs of caregivers and their loved ones can become even more challenging, and we urge Mainers to utilize the resources our respective organizations have to offer,” said Gallant. “We look forward to continuing our work on behalf of Maine caregivers and their families.”
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million that helps people turn their goals and dreams into ‘Real Possibilities’ by changing the way America defines aging. With staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, AARP works to strengthen communities and promote the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare security, financial security and personal fulfillment. AARP also advocates for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name. As a trusted source for news and information, AARP produces the world’s largest circulation magazine, AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org or follow @aarp and our CEO @JoAnn_Jenkins on Twitter.