By Jon Bartholomew - AARP Oregon Government Relations Director
At a Medford community forum several years ago, I heard something that really stuck with me. A doctor who specializes in Alzheimer’s said he noticed that a large percentage of family members taking care of someone with that disease die from stress-related conditions before the care recipient dies. Caregivers often work 'round the clock and, as a result, have health problems of their own.
Caring for a loved one is something that many people find rewarding, as it can bring people closer together. But unfortunately it can also be very physically, emotionally, and mentally stressful. In 2015, there was an estimated $110 million in higher health care costs for caregivers in Oregon due to the fact that they are caregivers of someone with Alzheimer’s/dementia. And this population is less than half of all the family caregivers in Oregon, so the overall numbers are much higher.
One thing that helps is caregiver training. It is available in person and online for free in Oregon through Oregon Care Partners. But in addition to learning new skills, caregivers also need short breaks (what we call respite care) from caregiving so they can take care of themselves. Caregivers need to spend some time alone or with friends, go out to a movie or see a game – something that allows them to be themselves.
Getting respite from caregiving can be difficult. It costs money to have a home care worker come to the house. Adult day care is expensive - if you can find it or have transportation available to get your loved one there. Do you need more than eight hours away from the house? You may be searching far and wide for a place that can help. We at AARP Oregon believe caregivers deserve the breaks they need to stay healthy and continue to enjoy life beyond the duties of caregiving.
We want to hear from caregivers about what can we do in Oregon to improve access to and effective use of caregiver respite. There are multiple answers. What is important to people in Portland could be different than what is needed in Burns.
This summer, we will be road tripping around Oregon to hear from community members about what caregivers in your community need. What is and is not working? How can the community better support family caregivers? If you can’t come to one of these meetings, you can visit https://act.aarp.org/iheartcaregivers/ to share your thoughts. But if you can attend, please do so. You'll meet like-minded people and learn that your journey is one we all share at some point in our lives.
All the details and links to register are below:
You may also RSVP for any of these events by calling toll free 1-877-926-8300
- Albany – June 7th https://aarp.cvent.com/RespiteAlbany060716
- Roseburg – June 8th https://aarp.cvent.com/RespiteRoseburg060816
- Lincoln City* – June 9th https://aarp.cvent.com/RespiteLincoln060916
- Eugene – June 14th https://aarp.cvent.com/RespiteEugene061416
- Medford – June 15th https://aarp.cvent.com/RespiteMedford061516
- Salem – June 16th https://aarp.cvent.com/RespiteSalem061616
- Beaverton – June 21st https://aarp.cvent.com/RespiteBeaverton062116
- Portland – June 28th https://aarp.cvent.com/RespitePortland062816
- Astoria – June 29th https://aarp.cvent.com/RespiteAstoria062916
- Bend – July 12th https://aarp.cvent.com/RespiteBend071216
- Burns – July 13th https://aarp.cvent.com/RespiteBurns071316
- La Grande* – July 14th AM https://aarp.cvent.com/RespiteLaGrande071416
- Pendleton – July 14th PM https://aarp.cvent.com/RespitePendleton071416
All times are 4:00 to 6:00 pm
*except Lincoln City, which starts at 4:30 pm and La Grande from 9:00 to 11:00 am