FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 14, 2021
Teresa Osborne, firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-237-6482
Caregivers for loved ones with dementia face special challenges
Harrisburg, PA – The Alzheimer’s Association - Greater Pennsylvania and Delaware Valley Chapters - the Pennsylvania Association of Area Agencies on Aging (P4A), and AARP Pennsylvania, partnered to deliver a free Virtual Dementia Caregiver Symposium to caregivers from throughout the Commonwealth on Tuesday, December 14th, 2021.
“Currently, more than 500,000 Pennsylvanians are caring for somebody with dementia,” said Clay Jacobs, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania Chapter. “We know that sixty-two percent of these caregivers have chronic health conditions, sixteen percent are in poor physical health, and twenty-four percent are struggling with depression. We are committed to help make their caregiving journey easier to navigate.”
“Today was designed to provide Pennsylvania dementia caregivers with the opportunity to connect with others who are experiencing something similar every day,” said Kristina Fransel, Alzheimer’s Association Delaware Valley Chapter Executive Director. “Now more than ever, resources, education and support are needed to help ease the emotionally, physically, and financially draining role of being a caregiver, particularly for those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.”
The Symposium featured a Perspectives on Caregiving Panel that was moderated by AARP’s national Family and Caregiving Expert and author of Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving, Amy Goyer. A passionate champion for caregivers, Amy has been one her entire adult life, caring for her grandparents, parents and sister. She has more than 35 years of experience working in the field of aging, and she shares her personal caregiving journey as well as practical, actionable tips for caregivers in her columns and videos. She is a sought-after speaker and moderates AARP’s Facebook Family Caregivers Discussion Group.
“AARP and our Symposium partners are committed to supporting caregivers so that they can safely care for their loved ones at home,” said AARP PA State Office Director Bill Johnston-Walsh. “By providing some basic support and commonsense solutions, like help at home, flexibility at work, and financial tools to make their big responsibilities a little bit easier, we can help them improve their well-being and the well-being of those for whom they provide care.”
An additional panel focused on Resources in Your Community and was facilitated by Matt Trott, Director of the Area Agency on Aging in Erie County, who has over two decades of experience in responding to community needs, providing care management services, and coordinating service provider networks to address the needs of older Pennsylvanians and their caregivers. During this session, details of recent improvements made to Pennsylvania’s Caregiver Support Program were reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging. Earlier this year, the Alzheimer’s Association, P4A, and AARP advocated for the passage of House Bill 464, which is now known as Act 20 of 2021. Enhancements made to the program include allowing more unpaid caregivers to easier access respite services, providing higher reimbursements for caregiving supplies, home modifications and assistive devices, and providing additional support and services offered through the state’s fifty-two local area agencies on aging.
“Caregivers are the very thread that enable older adults to live independently in their communities every day,” said Rebecca May-Cole, P4A Executive Director. “Their roles and responsibilities change over time as their loved one’s needs change. With such a depth and range of knowledge to cover, caregivers may at times feel overwhelmed, and our network of local area agencies on aging strongly support providing caregivers with the tools they need to succeed. That is why our Virtual Dementia Caregiver Symposium was so important. At the end of the day, caregivers left feeling more connected to others in the community, knowing they are not alone.”
If you are a caregiver or know of a caregiver who is need of support, help is available through the Alzheimer’s Association 24/7 Helpline by calling 1-800-272-3900 anytime to receive reliable information, advice and support. Additional resources and information can be accessed by visiting www.alz.org.
AARP also has a dedicated, toll-free family caregiving line where agents are available to take calls Monday-Friday, 7am to 11pm at 1-877-333-5885. The support line is also available in Spanish at 1-888-971-2013. Additionally, AARP offers a variety of caregiving resources and guides - including a Pennsylvania-specific Caregiver Guide – that can be accessed by visiting www.aarp.org/caregiving.
P4A and its network of local area agencies on aging also provides resource information for older Pennsylvanians and their families. To learn more about these resources, including being linked to your local area agency on aging, call 717-541-4214, Monday-Thursday, 8am to 4:30pm and Friday, 8am to 4pm or visit www.p4a.org.
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