Caregiver 101BY AMY LYNCH + ILLUSTRATIONS BY LIVIA CIVES
The information you need to make educated decisions as you travel with your loved one along the road ahead.
Helping aging parents, spouses and loved ones find the support and access the resources they need is an issue many women are currently addressing in the midst of already busy lives. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP, more than 65 million people (that’s 29 percent of the U.S. population) provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year.
The face of caregiving
Caregivers encompass all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic strata, although the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP state that the average age of caregivers is 49 years old (just over half of all caregivers are between the ages of 18 and 51).
Typically, caregivers spend around 20 hours a week on average providing care to a loved one; for those who actually live with their care recipient, that number nearly doubles to almost 40 hours a week. It probably comes as no surprise to learn that two-thirds of all caregivers (approximately 66 percent) are women, and more than 37 percent have children or grandchildren still living at home.
How we can help
Women who are currently providing care for a parent, spouse, relative or friend know first-hand how challenging the process of trying to balance career, care, family and self can be. kit is here to help.
This introduction is the first article in a series we’re assembling called “Caregiving 101” to run in each issue of the magazine throughout the coming year. By providing useful information and practical advice from local experts, it’s our aim to make your caregiving situation a little bit easier. Whether you currently are a caregiver, or are realizing the possibility of stepping into that role in the near future, we hope you’ll find the info we provide beneficial.
FACT: The average age of the typical caregiver is 49 years old.
Meet the panel
As we progress through our Caregiving 101 series, here are some of the local experts who’ll serve as resources and weigh in with valuable suggestions on a range of topics relevant to caregiving >>Maureen Lindley Director of Marketing, Flanner Buchanan
Flanner Buchanan has been a local fixture for more than a century, providing funeral services and comfort to Indianapolis-area families since the 1880s.
“We are experts on end-of-life planning,” Maureen explains. “We help caregivers who may be in the process of making decisions for elderly parents and loved ones, or need referrals for attorneys, skilled care, assisted-living facilities and other service providers. One of the most rewarding things about my job is being able to connect caregivers with the resources they need.”
According to Maureen, one in four people will find himself or herself acting as a caregiver at some point during his or her lifetimes.
“We’re just at the start of the aging Baby Boomer generation; caregiving is definitely an issue that’s on the rise,” she says. “For us, it’s important to be available to people who are starting to face that process.”
For more information about Flanner Buchanan’s services, call
(317) 387-7000 or visit flannerbuchanan.com.
Beth Gehlhausen Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County
Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County supports local residents by delivering more than 55,000 nutritious meals each year to reduce hunger and improve clients’ quality of life.
As executive director, Beth’s day-to-day activities include fundraising, overseeing the meal delivery program, and working to raise awareness about the organization.
“The aging population is growing so rapidly and we have to stay ahead of it,” she says. “Hardly a day goes by that I don’t talk to someone who’s dealing with an elderly parent or family member/friend. Resources have to be relevant and readily available for this population.”
Through home delivery, Meals on Wheels eases the strain on caregivers.
“We allow folks peace of mind in knowing that their loved one is eating a nutritious meal,” Beth says. “And there’s comfort in knowing someone is checking on your family member and providing a few minutes of conversation to brighten his or her day.”
Kate Kunk RN, CIRS-A, Caregiver Options Counselor, CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions
FACT: Approximately 65 million people per year are providing care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend.
Indiana’s largest Area Agency on Aging, CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions coordinates and monitors home-care services for clients and caregivers in a number of capacities. As Caregiver Options Counselor for the organization, Kate performs many duties, from responding to caregiver requests and facilitating workshops to coordinating one-on-one counseling and providing referrals.
“Caregivers wear many hats and are in virtually every venue,” she says. “Caregiving has a dramatic impact on everything and everyone in this country. We want to be sure that everyone not only knows about, but also cares about and understands how to respond to caregiver issues.”
In addition to her professional experience, Kate has personally observed family members providing care for grandparents and other relatives.
“I have witnessed some extraordinarily difficult caregiver situations,” she says. “I have also been inspired by caregiver strength and courage.”
For more information, visit cicoa.org or call (317) 254-3660.
Marc Adamson Administrator, Hancock Regional Home Health
Hancock Regional Home Health strives to empower its clients, families and caregivers through a variety of physician-directed services and support mechanisms. The organization assists clients in the transition from home to a hospital, rehab or skilled nursing facility; educates clients about their medical conditions; and continuously evaluates clients’ progress, adjusting treatment plans as necessary to achieve the highest quality of life and health.
“Our ultimate goal is to provide our clients with greater independence, increased safety, and improved health management in the home environment,” Marc says.
As a physical therapist who has worked in both hospital and home settings, Marc has devoted his career to providing care and education for patients and their families/caregivers.
“In home health, you really develop close relationships with your clients and their families,” he says. “It’s very rewarding to have such an impact on someone’s life.”
For more information, call (317) 468-4522 or visit Hancock Regional Hospital.Jill Rusk Director of Business Development, RN and Case Manager at CarDon and Associates
At CarDon senior living communities, associates share a commitment to enhancing clients’ well-being through every stage of life. CarDon and Associates also provides short-term rehabilitation services after illness, injury and surgery.
The foundations of Jill’s CarDon role lie in serving as an advocate for her clients, whether she’s working on the nursing floor or acting as a case manager.
“Our mission is to help patients transition in life, and still be able to maintain as much quality and function as they can,” she says. “Within that gray area where things start to change as you age, we want to keep people as safe and independent as possible. We help patients thrive in the right place at the right time.”
Jill also provided care for her own mother and father through their aging processes.
“Parenting a parent is when you realize the full circle of life,” she notes. CarDon offers caregiving seminars and workshops.
For information, call (812) 332-2265 or visit cardon.us.
Carol Applegate Nurse, elder law attorney and owner, Applegate Elder Law
Applegate Elder Law safeguards the well-being of its clients by providing legal services that pertain to health, legal documents, housing and other aspects of elder care.
Carol is not only an elder law attorney, she’s also a nurse with more than 20 years of experience, and she has served as an administrator in a long-term facility in addition to teaching psychiatric nursing.
“I’ve experienced personally the task of caring for my elderly parents,” she says. “This background has prepared me to offer services for caregivers —
I have compassion for my clients and for their family members who are facing this task of caring for loved ones.”
Carol examines each client’s situation in a holistic way to speak to physical, emotional, financial and legal issues, and she prides herself on helping caregivers get the tools they need to address the challenges they face.
Applegate Elder Law conducts educational seminars, and Carol is planning a caregiving conference in 2014.
For more information, call (317) 522-1325 or visit applegate-elderlaw.com.
Tina McIntosh President and Founder, Joy’s House Adult Day Service
Joy’s House offers adult day services devoted to the safety, comfort and care of its guests (clients).
“Adult day service is the least expensive form of health care, and is incredibly helpful for our guests and their caregivers,” Tina says. “Caregivers know that their loved one is happy, safe and enriched, which gives them peace of mind and helps them be more productive personally and professionally.”
Tina predicts the need for adult day services will grow as the population ages.
“About 15 years ago, I helped care for my father long-distance, and got a taste of what it was like to be a caregiver,” she says. “Caregiving is not something everyone talks about, or knows how to talk about. I want to change that culture so that the people who are in those roles know there is support in place and they not alone.”
Joy’s House offers support and education for caregivers through a number of retreats and programs.
For more information, call (317) 254-0828 or visit joyshouse.org.
Pat Fox President and CEO, Riverview Hospital
Based in Noblesville, Riverview Hospital is comprised of a full-service hospital and 20 primary, immediate and specialty-care facilities located throughout Hamilton and Tipton counties.
“As caregivers, we recognize the hard work and dedication that’s required to care for someone in need,” Pat says. “The demands placed on caregivers can be substantial. Because of this, we make sure to include caregivers in the conversation. And as part of our ongoing community outreach efforts, we provide them with the resources and services necessary to help them make more informed decisions.”
As a nurse, Pat knows there is great joy in being able to help a loved one.
“As a recent caregiver to an elderly parent, I remember the overwhelming emotional journey of guilt, hope, joy and compassion that comes with the experience,” she says. “While the struggles can be tough on our patients, it can be even harder on their loved ones. For this reason, we make sure we take the time to answer their questions and support them in their efforts.”
For more information, call (317) 773-0760 or visit riverview.org.
FACT: Caregivers typically spend around 20 hours a week on average providing care to a loved one.
Are you a caregiver?
Many people who act as caregivers may not even realize that’s what they’re doing. Ask yourself, do you:
- Frequently call or stop by to check on a friend or loved one?
- Provide rides for doctor appointments, grocery shopping or errands?
- Cook, shop or perform chores for a loved one or friend?
- Help someone with bathing or dressing?
- Offer assistance with personal business affairs such as banking and paying bills?
- Provide input and support when it comes to making healthcare decisions?
If you’ve answered yes to one or more of the above questions, you are a caregiver, and you’re not alone.
Upcoming events for caregivers
Strike Out Hunger Bowl-A-Thon
Sunday, Aug. 18, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Meals on Wheels of Hamilton County will host its 13th annual Bowl-A-Thon at Coopers Stardust Bowl, 845 Westfield Rd. in Noblesville. Put a team together and join the fun to raise money for this worthwhile organization; proceeds will benefit the Sponsor-A-Senior Program, which provides financial assistance to those who otherwise would not be able to receive a nutritious meal.
For more information, call (317) 776-7159.
A Day Away Caregiver Retreat
Saturday, Aug. 24, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This free one-day retreat is designed to empower and educate attendees as they care for their loved one. Caregivers will find access to community resources, participate in educational sessions and receive some much-needed pampering. Lunch is included.
To register, call (317) 254-0828 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CICOA offers ten workshops for caregivers, including Managing Work and Care, Managing Home and Care, Seniors and Poison: How to Stay Safe®, CICOA Services: An Overview for Caregivers, and CareAware Options for People of Faith.
To learn more about coordinating a workshop for your group or organization, email email@example.com or call (317) 803-6002.
Riverview Hospital sponsors a number of seminars, events and support groups to help educate and provide information to patients and their caregivers, such as participation in community events to provide health screenings. Upcoming events include joint pain seminars at the Renaissance Indianapolis North Hotel, Carmel on Aug. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. and at the Krieg DeVault Conference Room in Riverview Hospital on Sept. 12 from 6 to 7 p.m.; a diabetes support group that meets on the second Thursday of each month; a cancer support community that hosts bi-weekly support groups; and Mended Heart meetings for heart patients, their families and caregivers on the third Thursday of each month at Riverview Hospital from noon to 2 p.m.
For more information, call (317) 773-0760 or visit riverview.org.