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Wisconsin honors family caregivers during November

Family caregivers shoulder an estimated 80 percent of all care in the state, according to the Wisconsin Family and Caregiver Support Alliance.

The Alliance asks that people recognize the family caregivers in their lives during November Family Caregiver Month, as well as year-long. Gov. Tony Evers’ proclamation honoring the role of family caregivers can be read at https://arcwi.org/content/uploads/sites/17/2019/10/110019_Family-Caregiver-Month-Governors-2019-proclamation.pdf.

“Unpaid caregivers are helping their spouses, parents, siblings, children, neighbors and friends daily in our communities, doing everything from bringing meals and providing rides to giving medications and helping with dressing and bathing,” said Lisa Schneider, WFACSA member and director of the Respite Care Association of Wisconsin. “Our recent family caregiver survey tells a complicated story of caregivers who are under extraordinary stress, but also do their work out of love.”

The 612 respondents to the survey indicated —

Caregiving difficulties:

— 73% of caregivers are not meeting their own personal needs;

— 63% are not adequately balancing caregiving and work;

— 60% are not meeting the needs of their other children and family members.

Personal impacts:

— 72% of caregivers are tired/worn out a lot of the time;

— 64% report that their social life has suffered;

— 90% indicate their emotional and/or physical health has worsened;

— 53% report that relationships with friends and/or family have suffered.

Family caregivers also shared personal stories through the survey, including:

“As hard as it got at times due to loss of sleep and worrying consonantly if my mom would try to leave during the night and I not hear her, I never regretted giving up our home, my family moving in hers, and taking care of her so she could live her life till the end the way SHE wanted to. No regrets here.”

“Caregiving is very isolating. My daughter is absolutely worth it, but the hoops to jump through to get her care or to put respite in place are exhausting.”

“It is very stressful, both on myself and my immediate family.”

“It is the most rewarding and difficult job I’ve ever had.”

“A great way to honor a caregiver this month is to just say, ‘thank you,'” said Jane Mahoney, WFACSA member and caregiver support specialist with the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources, Inc. “Often caregivers go unrecognized or don’t ask for help because they don’t even feel as if they are a caregiver. Understanding what additional stressors being a caregiver puts on a person is the first step to ensuring they get the supports they may need.”

The mission of the Wisconsin Family and Caregiver Support Alliance is to raise awareness of family and caregiver support needs and increase the availability of, and access to, services and supports — both paid and unpaid — that can keep people across their lifespan engaged in their community as long as they desire.

The complete WFACSA Family Caregivers survey results can be read at http://wisconsincaregiver.org/alliance.

For information about work being done by the Governor’s Task Force on Caregiving, go to https://gtfc.wisconsin.gov.

To find resources to support families and provide care for a loved one, go to http://wisconsincaregiver.org/alliance.

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