LETTER: Celebrate National Caregivers Day on Feb. 18 by supporting those doing this crucial work in our community

Linda Levin, CEO of ElderSource, encourages caregivers to use the support offered by ElderSource.


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  • | 5:40 a.m. February 12, 2022
  • Palm Coast Observer
  • Opinion
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Dear Editor:

Americans mark the third Friday each February as National Caregivers Day. The tribute is designed to thank caregivers in the community, whether they are paid professionals or family caregivers taking care of loved ones. As we approach the two-year mark in the COVID-19 pandemic, this commemoration takes on enormous new importance.

Recent reports highlight the tremendous stress the pandemic has put on professional and family caregivers during a time when they are most critically needed. The reports show:

  • 1 in 5 American health care workers have quit their jobs since February 2020;
  • The shortage of caregivers has dramatically worsened during the pandemic;
  • 65% of health care plan members who utilize caregivers say their needs increased during the pandemic, with the leading issue being mental health challenges.

These unfortunate statistics are among the reasons behind a growing epidemic of caregiver burnout caused by pervasive changes in job demands during the last two decades and intensified by increased stress during the pandemic.

In addition to paid caregivers, more than 30 million caregivers in the U.S. perform this lifesaving function unpaid, caring for family members who are seriously ill or disabled. Half of these unpaid caregivers had to quit their jobs to provide the needed care, and many report serious financial hardships related to the ongoing costs of caring for loved ones.

While caregivers are not alone among those struggling through the pandemic, shortages in this profession are particularly impactful now. In addition to paid caregivers, more than 30 million caregivers in the U.S. perform this lifesaving function unpaid, caring for family members who are seriously ill or disabled. Half of these unpaid caregivers had to quit their jobs to provide the needed care, and many report serious financial hardships related to the ongoing costs of caring for loved ones. The burden on our already stressed health care system without these volunteer caregivers would be devastating.

Florida remains one of only 10 states yet to pass the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable or CARE Act to support family caregivers as their loved ones go into the hospital and as they transition back home. Among other important provisions, the CARE Act requires hospitals to provide family caregivers with education and instructions on the medical tasks they need to perform for patients at home following discharge.

ElderSource offers many resources to help support caregivers in our community. With generous support from the Florida Blue Foundation, ElderSource’s Tailored Caregiver Assessment and Referral System Program is an accredited program offering customized support to family caregivers of those aged 60 or older in Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, St. Johns and Nassau counties. TCARE helps reduce stress and provides strategies to help caregivers deal with burnout. ElderSource’s TCARE specialists meet with caregivers and create customized care plans.

ElderSource also offers Caring Connections, a group of programs that helps encourage social engagement, physical and mental activities and support from family and friends. Through Caring Connections, caregivers in our community and those they help share information with and support other caregivers, receive regular, friendly phone calls from volunteers, video call their family and friends, and join interactive classes that help them stay active — physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually.

While challenging, caregiving can be not only a vital, but also a rewarding responsibility. Especially in these times, our community needs to support these heroes like we do our first responders and hospital professionals. We encourage caregivers to connect with the resources that we provide by visiting ElderSource online at MyElderSource.org, or call our HelpLine at 1-888-242-4464.

Linda Levin

CEO of ElderSource

 

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