November marks National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize the 42 million Americans, 200,000 in Idaho, who help care for aging parents, spouses and other loved ones so they can remain at home – as opposed to costly institutions. In the Gem State alone, family caregivers provide unpaid care valued at a staggering $2 billion annually.
Today, the average Idaho family caregiver is a 60-year-old female, who takes care of an 81-year-old woman – usually her mother. She provides 20 hours a week of assistance to her loved one, although she may be on call around-the-clock.
“When it comes to family dynamics, caregiving is the norm,” says Lupe Wissel, AARP Idaho state director, which represents more than 188,000 members 50 and older. “If you’re not a caregiver now, you were one in the past, or you’ll likely be one in the future. These unsung heroes help their older loved ones live independently, with dignity, each and every day.”
The vast majority of older Idahoans want to live independently, at home, as they age. Family caregivers provide the bulk of assistance to make this goal a reality, including help with bathing and dressing; meal preparation; managing finances; transportation; grocery shopping, and more.
Wissel adds, “Family caregivers are also required to undertake tasks that were once in the domain of only doctors and nurses: complex medication management, wound care and injections. Yet, most receive little or no training for these duties.” That’s why AARP Idaho is working towards commonsense solutions and providing resources for caregivers across the state.
A free guide for Idaho family caregivers is available to download HERE. It contains the most up to date and comprehensive local information for caregivers across Idaho including support, finances, legal issues, medical training, in-depth community resources and more.