2015 White House Conference on Aging

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Nora Super and others at Listening Sessions 2014

20. November 2014 13:33
by Nora Super

A Time for Family

20. November 2014 13:33 by Nora Super | 0 Comments

Many of us are already preparing for Thanksgiving celebrations.   Turkey and football, and perhaps travelling to wherever we call home, will be on many of our menus for the day.  But whatever your plans, Thanksgiving is, above all, a time for family—however you define it. 

That’s why it’s fitting that President Obama proclaimed November as National Family Caregivers Month. In honoring those who give of themselves to support those affected by illness, injury, or disability, the President committed to “lifting up these Americans as they care for their loved ones while protecting their dignity and individuality.” 

We know that the vast majority of older adults with limitations receive care in their homes from family members and friends who are unpaid.  Family caregivers are often their primary lifeline, safety net, and support system.  These caregivers complement the dedicated workforce of caregivers across the country who also provide vital support to older Americans.  They help sustain health and hope.

But their own health and well-being can be affected by the often challenging and exhausting—albeit rewarding—demands of caregiving. As I’ve engaged with numerous groups over the past few weeks, including the Gerontological Society of America, the Advisory Council for the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, and the National Coalition on Mental Health and Aging, they’ve all voiced a common theme:  That the 2015 White House Conference on Aging focus attention on the essential role of caregivers.

The Administration has strongly supported and expanded programs that increase access to home- and community-based services to give older Americans options for remaining independent in their communities. We know that many caregivers juggle the competing demands of caring for a chronically ill or older relative, raising a family, and managing a career.  We look forward to hearing from caregivers and other stakeholders about how the Conference can continue to build on our efforts to date to support caregivers’ needs.

To help support and sustain family caregivers, many resources already exist:

  • Eldercare Locator a partnership of the Administration on Aging and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, is designed to help older adults, their families and caregivers, find their way through the maze of available resources by identifying trustworthy local services, including Area Agencies on Aging; Aging and Disability Resource Centers; and Native American programs funded by the Older Americans Act. You can also reach Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116, and you can have an online chat with an Information Specialist, Monday–Friday 9am–8pm EST. On its homepage, Eldercare Locator provides tools and resources, including factsheets, brochures, and helpful links. It all points the caregiver in the right direction.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs also offers a free, six week, online workshop for those caring for veterans called “Building Better Caregivers.” Launched in February 2013, the interactive workshop provides information and support for family caregivers of Veterans.  It’s an innovative way to help those caring for the men and women whose profound service and sacrifice we honored earlier this month on Veterans Day.
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