LETTER TO EDITOR: Support for caregivers offered

Staff Writer
Geneseo Republic

    Did you know, according to the Alzheimer’s Association, if you add up the number of unpaid hours of care per year provided by a friend or family member to a senior loved one in the state of Illinois the cost equals $5,057,840,312 per year?

    This is assuming a caregiver would only get paid $11.50 an hour, significantly less than the cost of in home care from a private agency.  

    This, amongst numerous other reasons, is exactly why Alternatives for the Older Adult provides a Caregiver Program. Caregiving is a role that has become as common as being a mother, father, husband or wife.

    What is a caregiver? Some would jump to the conclusion they are only a full time, registered professional; but this is not so. It is the daughter that drives her father to doctor’s appointments or the husband who keeps track of his wife’s medications. Balancing their checkbook, cooking their meals or helping them bathe; these are the tasks that caregivers provide for their elderly loved ones.

    Although being a caregiver can be a rewarding experience, it also comes with very stressful challenges. The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, a broken hip or the first day out of the hospital is often followed by the question: “So where do I go from here?”

    Alternative’s for the Older Adult’s Caregiver Program provides caregiver support groups, individual counseling, family mediation, resource advisement and educational programs which address various aspects of caring for a senior.

    Thanks to the Western Illinois Department on Aging, local United Ways, donations and various grants these services are free to the public.

    By helping yourself, you are helping your elderly loved one. As one of our caregiver counselors often says, “You can’t draw from an empty well. Sometimes the best kind of caregivers are the ones who know when they need help for themselves.” 

    Our next few presentations, offered free of charge to the public, will be “Making Tough Decisions About Care,” “The Emotional Roller Coaster of Caregiving” and “Caring for A Senior with Dementia: Tricks of the Trade.” These programs are offered the last Friday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. at the Moline office. Per request, these programs can be offered to local community groups.

    To learn more about Alternative’s Caregiver Program please call us at 309-277-0167, toll free at 1-800-798-0988 or visit our website at www.4olderadults.org.

Ellen Berberich, B.S., Elder Care Advisor

Erin Hanna, B.A., Caregiver Counselor

Doug Weaver, B.S., Caregiver Counselor

Lori Link, B.A., Caregiver Counselor/ Money Management Coordinator

Kirsten Stevens, B.A., Care Coordinator

Kayla Huntington, M.S.W., Program Manager