According to a new AARP Report, Caregivers provide $600 billion unpaid hours of care across the United States. Many of these individuals are loved ones who put their lives on hold and sacrifice their own free time to provide essential care to someone who can’t care for themselves. Many aren’t able to afford the cost of round-the-clock care options, and while no monetary value can trump the love of a caregiver, this role can be very physically, emotionally and mentally taxing.
Ryan, a family caregiver located in Lincoln County, knows this all too well. He had to make the difficult choice to quit his job to provide care for his mother, who suffers from limited mobility due to persistent chronic conditions. He quickly realized that the stress of being a 24/7 caregiver was severely affecting his mental health, and soon saw his depression affecting nearly every aspect of his life. He was eager to get back into the workforce, but found that he couldn’t ever get enough time to himself to even search or apply for any open positions. Though Ryan searched for support and opportunities for respite, he quickly discovered that the waiting lists are lengthy, and resources are few.
Though hope seemed slim, Ryan was later referred to the Centralina Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) by a local service provider. From the start, FCSP focused on a person-centered plan for Ryan, including individualized care consultations to discuss his short and long–term needs. He was introduced to the Building Better Caregivers Class, an evidence-based class offered through Centralina Area Agency on Aging (AAA), which introduced him to a support group of other local caregivers and taught him how to utilize stress intervention techniques. FCSP also helped to purchase supplemental supplies to help ease caregiver burden, including a ramp for the home. Finally, FCSP provided funds to pay for a private caregiver for a few days each week, which gave Ryan a much-needed break and allowed him time to search for a job and reconnect with friends.
When speaking with Ryan, he expressed his immense gratitude for this program and how their help has impacted his life. “The safety net I was given through care consultations and the provided resources was invaluable,” he said. “They provided helpful mental health resources and allowed me the ability to have a breakthrough the respite program. It was so nice knowing that I was not alone and that there really was a voice on the other end of the telephone to listen.”
Caregivers are often scared to ask for help or don’t know where to go for aid. Centralina AAA’s Family Caregiver Support Program exists to provide a safe space for these individuals to gain assistance and essential resources through a compassionate and empathetic approach. If you or someone you know is an unpaid caregiver and may benefit from our services, please reach out to FCSP Manager, Cindy Kincaid, at email@example.com. To learn more about the program, visit the Centralina AAA website.