Letter to the editor

To the editor,

For nearly 20 years, the president of the United States has designated November as National Family Caregivers Month.

Family caregivers support a range of care partners – spouses with a dementia, youths with disabilities, older adults facing their final years. They provide countless hours of support and save our health care system billions of dollars.

As essential as these American caregivers are to the wellbeing of those in need of support, they are often taken for granted as they mow a lawn for a neighbor, nurture a grandchild or spend the night with a chronically ill parent.

And the experience can be isolating. Through the surveying of caregivers, AARP researchers have found that “almost 1 in 10 caregivers report that they have no one to talk to about private matters, and 1 in 5 said they had no one to call for help.”

This is not a situation “out there.” Koochiching Aging Options, for example, has over 50 registered caregivers in its Caregiver Support Program. Through the program, these “informal caregivers” gain a sounding board, education, help with planning and lessons in selfcare.

Each year a theme is chosen for National Family Caregivers Month. In 2019, the National Family Caregivers Association chose #BeCareCurious as its focus, encouraging caregivers to get involved in care issues, including treatment options, finding reliable information, care planning and asking about insurance coverage. Go to CaregiverAction.org for more information.

As former First Lady Roslynn Carter pointed out, all of us will someday be a caregiver, or need one. This Thanksgiving may be a good time of year to reflect on the thanks we owe to the millions who selflessly support their loved ones.

Douglas Skrief

executive director

Koochiching Aging Options

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