According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, approximately 44 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months and spend an average of 24.4 hours per week providing care. The role of caregiver may come suddenly and unexpectedly as the result of an accident such as a fall, or from an illness of a loved one. Grandparents may assume responsibility for their grandchildren because their parents are either absent or unable to raise them.
Since 1977 when President Clinton proclaimed November to be National Family Caregivers Month, this annual observation has been a time to honor family caregivers, raise awareness of caregiver issues and challenges, and offer support and resources for family caregivers. Many caregivers work full or part-time and have school-aged children along with juggling their caregiving responsibilities. They may feel overwhelmed and unaware of where to turn for help and neglect taking care of themselves. Fortunately, there are many federal, state, and local programs that can help.
One place to turn to is your Area Agency on Aging. The County of Delaware Services for the Aging (COSA) has been serving the needs of the county’s senior population for over forty years. COSA’s Information and Referral department is available to answer questions from the general public on the needs of the elderly and assist with connecting people in need with appropriate services. COSA offers many programs and services to meet the needs of county seniors and their caregivers.
In-home services, which include respite, are available and are coordinated by a care manager after a comprehensive assessment to determine eligibility. Adult Day Centers offer an interactive, safe, supervised environment for older adults with a dementia-related disease, Parkinson’s Disease, or other organic brain syndromes. The Caregiver Support Program can help reduce financial and emotional stress often associated with caring for a dependent relative including grandparents caring for grandchildren. The Pennsylvania Link to Aging and Disability Resources is a network of agencies utilizing collective resources to most effectively connect seniors and those with disabilities to the best possible programs and services to meet their individual needs.
For information on COSA and its programs and services, visit www.delcosa.org or call (610) 490-1300.