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Caregivers get their share of care

Community: Comfort Keepers will host annual event Saturday to explore the resources available

Posted: March 14, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: March 14, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Taking care of an elderly family member or friend can be confusing, expensive and emotionally taxing. Comfort Keepers In-Home Care of Santa Clarita will hold its annual Caregiver Resource Day on Saturday to help inform caregivers of the support services available to them.

 


“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.”
— Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter   


Most people don’t plan on becoming caregivers. But along life’s unpredictable path, tragic and unanticipated challenges often present themselves and necessitate that role.

Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, debilitating strokes and traumatic vehicular crashes are among the numerous reasons causing once-independent adults to become full-time recipients of another person’s care.

According to a 2009 National Alliance for Caregiving report, more than 65 million people, or 29 percent of the U.S. population provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year, and spend an average of 20 hours per week caring for their loved one.

The same report stated that approximately 66 percent of family caregivers are women who are married and employed.

The value of the services family caregivers provide for free when caring for older adults, according to the Evercare Survey of the Economic Downturn and Its Effects on Family Caregiving, is estimated at $375 billion per year, which is twice the amount actually spent on homecare and nursing home services combined.

Unfortunately, as the Evercare Survey further illustrated, the financial impact of caregiving can be severe.

During the 2009 economic downturn, one-in-five family caregivers had to move into the same home with his or her loved one to cut expenses, and 47 percent of working caregivers indicated an increase in caregiving expenses that caused them to use up all or most of their savings.

To help bring vital information, empowerment and support to caregivers within the community, the Santa Clarita Valley Senior Center will hold its annual Caregiver Resource Day on Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Title sponsor Comfort Keepers In-Home Care of Santa Clarita is presenting the event, which will feature distinguished guest speakers, useful information on care-giving, related resources and support, a Summerhill Villa MBK Senior Living-sponsored breakfast, raffles and more.

“Through this yearly event we strive to let caregivers know that they are not alone,” said Senior Center support services department director SuzAnn Nelsen. “We do this by providing tools to help them better care for others, and also so very crucial, to take better care of themselves.” 

With event sponsors also including Santa Clarita & Antelope Valley Homemakers and Personal Attendants and Home Instead Senior Care, the free educational symposium will feature: 

* Dr. Joshua Grill, director of UCLA’s Katherine and Benjamin Kagan Alzheimer’s Disease Treatment Development Program, who will speak on “News in Alzheimer’s research, treatments and clinical trials.”

* Viki Kind, bioethicist, author, hospice volunteer and lecturer, who will talk about “caregiving, communication and making compassionate and empowered decisions.”

* Judith Harris, psychotherapist, humorist, and Senior Center support group facilitator, will discuss “Meaning and memories found along the caregiving journey.”

* Myles McNamara, Comfort Keepers In-Home Care owner and SCV Senior Center Foundation Board President, will emcee the event.

To help caregivers get a “time out” and attend Caregiver Resource Day, free adult day care will be available. That complimentary service, however, requires pre-registration which can be made by calling the center’s Supportive Services department.

The myriad day-to-day responsibilities placed on caregivers can be overwhelming and often lead to self-neglect, Nelsen cautioned, adding that the Senior Center helps caregivers in a variety of ways, including special events such as Caregiver Resource Day, support groups, adult day care, in-home registry, care management and more.

“We know that caregiving is one of the most stressful and demanding roles that a human being can provide for another. Statistics actually show that caregivers often burn out and die from stress-related illnesses before the person they have been giving care to passes on. Clearly, the need for caregiver support is imperative,” Nelsen said.

Caregiver Resource Day is open to persons 18 years of age and older. For more information, contact SuzAnn Nelsen or Diana Sevanian at (661) 255-1588. You may also e-mail SuzAnn or Diana at snelsen@scvsc.org or dsevanian@scvsc.org. The SCV Senior Center is located at 22900 Market Street, Newhall. www.scvsc.org.

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