With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and holiday season
quickly approaching, it is an important time to highlight IDoA’s
Caregiver Support Program and the resources available for people who
are caring for older Illinoisans.
Specifically, Illinois’ 600,000 caregivers join the estimated 53
million Americans across the nation who are caring for loved ones
with illnesses, disabilities, and other physical, cognitive, and
mental health conditions. From helping with shopping and
transportation to providing complex medical care in their own homes,
these family caregivers are a vital component of Illinois’ Aging
Network and a critical resource for older Illinoisans facing the
devastating toll of social isolation exacerbated by the COVID-19
Although there tends to be an average profile for caregivers, they
are greatly diverse representing both genders and all races,
cultures and ages. Caregivers experience difficult emotions along
their journey and can also experience many losses including loss of
privacy, freedom, money, identity, and work. For many family
caregivers, routine tasks are made more difficult as a result of
trauma in the lives of the people they are caring for.
“Caregivers are a lifeline to the outside world and source of hope
for better days ahead. Caregivers need support themselves, or they
risk putting their own health and well-being at risk. I cannot
stress enough that help is available,” said Paula Basta, Director of
IDoA. “Caregiving is a rewarding experience, but it also comes with
challenges. I would like to remind everyone to keep an eye out for
friends and family who are caregivers and take a moment to support
those who support others.”
IDoA’s 13 Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) stand ready to help and
provide caregiver support services. The use of respite assistance is
not a new concept, and under the recently reauthorized federal Older
Americans Act Section 217, emphasis was placed on identifying
specific needs and barriers to caregiving, eliminating funding caps.
Last year, our AAAs served 55,098 caregivers through our
programming, providing 267,208 units of service; which are diverse
throughout the state. Find a Caregiver Resource Center near you.
At the same time, we all know someone who is providing care for
someone else. Caregivers give of themselves without expecting
anything in return, and they rarely think of themselves first. Now,
more than ever, we should all reach out to someone we know in that
caregiver role and offer some small kindness. Can you run an errand
for them? Provide a meal? Maybe give them an evening off while you
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Even a small encouraging note
or gift would brighten their day. Support those who support others,
and join us as we #RAISEcaregiving awareness with these tips:
• Recognize - The warning signs that someone needs help,
physically, emotionally, or mentally.
• Assist - The caregiver and give them a break. Everyone
deserves a chance to relax.
• Include - The caregiver, and make sure that they are not
isolated or feeling alone. A phone call to a caregiver just to check
in, sending a note, or stopping by for a visit can make a
significant difference and help them feel supported. Almost 1 in 10
caregivers said they had no one to talk to about private matters and
1 in 5 said they had no one to call for help.
• Support - By being a good listener. Caregivers are rarely
expecting you to solve their problems, but they sometimes need to
vent their frustration. Pretending to listen rarely fools anyone.
• Engage - Don’t exclude the caregiver because they often
must decline invitations, but don't hound the caregiver with
invitations that you know can't be accepted. Offer invitations that
can conceivably be accepted. At the same time, don't lay guilt on
the caregiver for declining. Sometimes caregivers are simply too
fatigued to want to do anything at all, but that does not mean that
they don't want to be remembered.
The Caregiver Support Program, managed by IDoA in partnership with
the Area Agencies on Aging and local community-service providers,
provide information to family caregivers about available services,
individual counseling, support groups or caregiver training;
assistance in gaining access to services; as well as supplemental
services on a limited basis, to complement the care provided by
family caregivers. All the resources are meant to provide respite
care to a family caregiver. For more information on the Caregiver
Support Program, visit www.illinois.gov/aging, and click on the
Caregiver Support Program tab.
[Illinois Office of Communication and