Research shows that nearly 90 percent of people age 65 and older want to age in place (i.e., stay in their homes and communities) for as long as possible. But to do so, many older adults rely on family or friend caregivers for support. The wide range of services provided by unpaid caregivers, such as transportation, food preparation, housekeeping and personal care enable older adults to live with dignity and independence. Most people who serve as caregivers do not self-identify as caregivers, however. Instead they consider the care they provide as “what you do for someone you care about or love.”
But serving as a caregiver may exact a heavy toll—emotionally, physically and financially—for the person assuming this role. The average age of a caregiver is 48, a time in many people’s lives when they are still raising a family and actively employed. Add the role of caregiver to the mix and many people feel unprepared and overwhelmed.
Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) around the nation provide direct support to caregivers, primarily through the National Family Caregiver Support Program (Title III E of the Older Americans Act), which was created in 2000. Services include respite care (temporary supervision of the care recipient to provide rest for the caregiver, which is the most requested service); individual counseling and support groups; caregiver education classes/training; and emergency assistance.
AAAs also play a crucial information and referral role, connecting families with local providers who can help them create a caregiving plan, address specific challenges, or identify support services. Caregivers should contact their local AAA to learn more.
- Face the Facts: Topics to Discuss Now with Your Aging Parents
- 10 Warning Signs Your Older Family Member May Need Help
- Eldercare Locator Consumer Publications
- Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiver Center
- ARCH National Respite Network
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- National Alliance for Caregiving
- Caregiver Action Network
- WISER's Financial Steps for Caregivers