I was recently reading a study,”Caregiving in the U.S”* which looked at the number and impact of people in this country who care for or help to care for another adult. With the aging population, more and more of us are involved in caregiving in one form or another. The study cited that 44 million Americans or 21% of the adult population is involved in caring for another adult. The vast majority (83%) of these are family members. The estimated value of these services, if they had to be paid for, is 257 billion dollars annually. One of the hardest parts of being a caregiver is finding resources to fill needs and finding answers to your questions about everything from transportation to medical issues to housing maintenance and adaptation to allow for changing needs. Where do you look for answers to these questions? One place people here in Southwestern Virginia can begin is right here in the Senior News. Each issue is jam packed with resources to help someone caring for a senior. If you don’t see it in these pages, call Gary Cooper who generally knows about anything related to seniors that’s happening in Central and Southwest Virginia. His contact information is located in the front of the magazine.
If you use a computer, there’s a website that’s devoted to helping caregivers find resources and answers to their questions. It’s called www.caring.com and deals with every aspect of caregiving from housing to health. One of the features they offer is a panel of experts from a wide variety of fields. These experts provide free answers to questions in their area of expertise. I was recently honored to be chosen as an expert in the areas that I deal with in this column, Universal Design, Home Modifications, and Aging in Place. I believe that over the next few years we will see a dramatic shift in the way we care for our aging loved ones. One of the reasons I got into this line of work in the first place is that I believe that we suffer as a society when we isolate our older population in retirement communities. I think that when a community is well integrated and different generations interact with each other on a regular basis, everyone benefits. Some of the people whom I have done remodeling projects for, particularly some of the World War II veterans have enriched my life tremendously just by having a chance to meet them. If you are caring for a loved one, cherish every moment you have with them, even when you are worn out, because our time here on earth is over in the twinkling of an eye.
So if you are a caregiver and need help, look through the resources available in the pages of this magazine or at www.caring.com. If you could use some help making your home more accessible please give me a call at (540) 384-2064, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to me at Solid Rock Enterprises, 428 W Riverside Dr, Salem, VA 24153. I would be happy to help.
* “Caregiving in the U.S.” National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, April 2004
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