Nawrocki Center for Elder Law, Special Needs & Disability Planning
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Caregiver Basics for Seniors

"There are only four kinds of people in the world - those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers."

~ Rosalynn Carter

"When you reach the end of your rode, tie a knot and hang on."

~ Thomas Jefferson

Caregivers are those who take care of another person who is frail, elderly, or disabled. You may be a caregiver and you probably know a caregiver. You may be a caregiver without even realizing it, thinking of yourself only as a spouse, a child, a partner, or a friend. You may feel that you're only helping out in that capacity - taking your parent to a doctor's appointment, or helping a neighbor pay her bills. But if you are someone's caregiver, it's important to recognize it as such. Why?

Caregiving can become extremely stressful. Sometimes family members feel that they have little choice in taking on the responsibility to care for a loved one. Sometimes, there just isn't anyone else willing or able to help. Caregiving means that you may need to participate in very personal activities, including toileting or bathing, which can be awkward or uncomfortable. Sometimes caring for another person takes time away from our own families and hobbies. It can even affect us in the workplace. Emotions, finances, and time constraints become part of the equation.

It's important that you recognize yourself as a caregiver because you are not alone. According to the Caregiver Action Network, more than 65 million Americans - 29% of the population - provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or elderly family member or friend during any given year. 78% of adults living in the community and in need of long term care depend on family and friends as their only source of help. And 40% - 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression.

But if you're feeling pressure as a caregiver, you can seek out advice and reassurance, and build confidence and a support network, by reaching out to the numerous resources available to caregivers in all kinds of places:

· AARP Caregiving Resource Center: www.aarp.org/home-family/caregiving

· National Alliance for Caregiving: www.caregiving.org

· Area Agency on Aging 1B: 800 852-7795

(Livingston County)

· Livingston County Stroke Club: 517 545-6710

Stroke Survivors and Caregivers

· Livingston County Catholic Charities: 517 546-9910

Caregiver Support Group

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