In more than a fourth of American households, care is provided to one or more elderly family members or to a family member with a disability. In many households, no formal support services are in place, which means that all care is provided by family members and friends. By 2020 more than one million Kentuckians will be older than 60, and will account for about 23 percent of the population.
The rapidly aging U.S. population requires new strategies concerning the care for those who are unable to care for themselves as they grow older. Those with chronic and degenerative diseases require long term continuous care. In many cases the caregivers: adult children, spouses, siblings, and friends, have taken the responsibility for providing the care for their ailing relatives with little support and no compensation.
Caregiving requires help with shopping, food preparation, home upkeep, supervising medications, transportation and, eventually, all personal care. These caregivers are called upon to make sacrifices that may include relocation, career changes, financial burdens, home life adjustments, and decreased social life. The caregiver role begins as a loving responsibility, but it can become a burden that results in ambivalent emotions.
The long-term care of a person at home requires a range of skills and services designed to help the individual maintain optimum levels of physical, psychological, and social functioning. Coping with these demands effectively requires understanding, support, education, and relief for the caregiver. Meeting the needs of the caregiver is primary. A well designed educational program can offer opportunities to learn and to share. This could help lessen the burden and enhance the coping strategies for the primary caregiver and for the family.
Recognizing the importance of meeting the needs of caregivers as well as those receiving care, the Margaret T. Stoeckinger Foundation has implemented the Caring for the Caregiver Program.
- Linking caregivers with one another to provide opportunities for support and sharing
- Decreasing the stress of the caregiver role through knowledge of the illness/condition throughout individual’s the life span
- Increasing knowledge of aging and illness, behavioral changes and needs of the one being cared for
- Developing communication with doctors concerning medications, prevention of additional health problems, and future care planning.
- Acquiring personal care and communication skills to meet care giving challenges
- Developing effective coping strategies for dealing with stress
- Increasing knowledge of resources available in the community including respite care
The intent is to meet these objectives by providing grants to established organizations who provide workshops and conferences for caregivers and professionals who work to support caregivers in our communities. These workshops and conferences will include networking and training by experts on subjects important to the attendees and those they care for. Funds may also be available to support external training and certifications for caregivers.
See our Caring for the Caregiver Grant Program if you believe the Foundation could be supportive of programs your organization provides.