By Nicki Manske, South County Regional Supervisor
Whether we are ‘hands on’ or managing the support from afar, being a caregiver is one of the most challenging and generous gift of love any of us will ever hold. I recently lost a very dear friend to cancer. She had brought her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s to her home over ten years ago and was her primary caregiver all those years. I realized that she had put aside some very important health issues that had arisen for her until it was too late. While caring for her mother did not cause her health problems itself, neglecting her own health taking care of her loved one probably did. Her mother is now in a skilled nursing facility.
Caring for a loved one can be a rewarding experience but can also be physically and emotionally exhausting as well. Support from friends and family can reduce the stress on the caregiver and the loved one. The use of respite care also makes it possible to take a break from caregiving duties. Often the financial burdens add more stress. RAISE Act would help these at home family caregivers who provide unpaid care. The bill – called the Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Act has been introduced in Congress to support family caregivers. AARP recently urged its members to call their representatives and senators to co-sponsor the bipartisan RAISE Family Caregivers Act that would prevent more costly care and save taxpayer money. Most importantly, this will help people to stay at home where surveys show most want to be.