Caregiver's Corner

Caregivers are heroes of the elderly and disabled; they tirelessly work to help those limited in mobility. They may be a spouse, neighbor, professional, parent, son or daughter. Their “real job” may be a banker, doctor, construction worker or teacher. But one thing they have in common is an unconditional desire to care for another human being, to allow them to live their life with dignity. I’d like to devote this column to my dad.

The National Alliance for Caregiving, www.caregiving.org, estimates that one-quarter of U.S. households are directly caring for a adult with a disability without compensation. Middle-aged Americans, known as the “sandwich generation,” often go from raising their children to caring for their spouse or parent. 30-40% of working adults are managing a career with the added commitment of caring for an adult. “Sandwiched” between the responsibilities of caring for their children and their parents, careers may suffer due to illness, leaves of absence and loss of productivity.

Where Caregivers Can Go for Support

The answer may be online. CARELINKUSA® is a tool for health care professionals and consumers seeking information and referrals to facilities such as nursing homes and assisted-living environments in and around Minnesota. With this valuable tool, you can search for providers based on location and/or services provided. CARELINKUSA® is a community service provided by Care Providers of Minnesota, a nonprofit trade association for providers of long-term health care.

If a caregiver can’t leave their dependent to attend a support group, they should “go virtual.” The Empowering Caregivers Web site contains resources, message boards, newsletters and other support tools to help provide assistance and education to caregivers. They even have a special section on alternative healing.

For a more tactical approach, Family Means provides respite care and support groups. Their other services include credit counseling, employee assistance and youth and family development. The Well Spouse Foundation has a support group that meets the 2nd and 4th Thursday of every month. Prairie Adult Care in Eden Prairie has partnered with Emerald Crest in Shakopee to offer a support group specifically addressing the challenges of caring for someone with memory loss and another for Parkinson’s. As a bonus, they offer free respite care in the day center.

The society-wide shift from skilled nursing-home care to community-based services has opened up opportunities for nonprofits to bridge the gap between caregivers and health care providers. Eldercare Partners unites five of the most respected nonprofit organizations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area. They offer caregivers coaching and counseling, geriatric assessments, Web site lists of Twin Cities area caregiver support groups and caregiver education and training seminars. Check out their Twin Cities calendar of events for caregivers. One of their member organizations, DARTS, created CaregiverMN.org, where you’ll learn about multiple resources for family caregivers, including one-to-one support and workplace resources for Twin Cities area caregivers and some culturally specific information for Spanish-speaking and Hmong family caregivers. DARTS provides care-giver support groups, education sessions, volunteer respite care, information and assistance, and care management to more than 1,000 seniors and their families annually.

Caregivers, help is near! Stay in touch with your local and national organizations, learn about their resources both online and in-person and, most importantly, know that you are heroes.

 

Resource Contact Information

Caregiver MN: www.caregivermn.org/HomePage.asp

CareLinkUSA: www.carelinkusa.com/Default.asp

DARTS: www.darts1.org

Eldercare Partners: www.eldercarepartners.org/index.htm

EmpoweringCaregivers: www.care-givers.com/

Family Means: www.familymeans.org/

Prairie Adult Care: www.prairieadultcare.com/support.html

The Well Spouse Foundation: www.wellspouse.org/

Lisa Schmidtke is the President and Founder of House-calls Network. Their Web site, www.housecalls-network.com, contains a directory of resources that can help the growing population of seniors, people with disabilities and their caregivers live independently. House-calls Network also sells aids for daily living and adaptive clothing.

Lisa Schmidtke can be reached by e-mail at lisa@housecalls-network.com  or by phone at 952-221-0722. Housecalls Network does not endorse any particular provider. They assume no responsibility for transactions between the readers of this article and listed organizations.