Today the population is living longer than ever before. Along with this aging trend has also come the desire for people to remain independent in their own home even with chronic illness. The Family Caregiver Support Program is a program designed to identify, assist and support family caregivers with the task of taking care of their loved one in the home.
It is now estimated that 44 million households in the United States participate as caregivers, caring for family members or friends over the age of 50. Family caregiving, which is usually unpaid, now preoccupies one in every four households. It is estimated that family caregiving will provide approximately 80% of the care to older people so they can keep their independence, delaying or eluding nursing home stays. The estimated cost of this "free service" that family caregivers provide to the health care industry is $306 billion in savings nationwide. Out of this enormous support to the older adult came a public outcry for information, assistance and services to give relief to the caregiver. It was determined by enabling the caregiver to remain emotionally and physically healthy, they would be able to continue the caregiving role for their loved one longer.
In 1999 during the re-authorization of the Older Americans Act came the National Family Caregiver Support Program. This program calls for all states with the partnership of the Area Agency on Aging to administer this program in five areas.
- Information to identify caregivers in the area and to identify what services are available in the area for caregivers. A caregiver is defined as a person who is assisting another person to live independent in their home.
- Assistance aiding the caregiver to gain access to services that can assist them in their caregiving role. This is identified as the Care Management program of the Area Agency on Aging.
- Individual/Group Support and Training provide training and encourage the caregiver to participate in caegiver or disease specific support groups.
- Respite Care enables the caregiver to have temporary relief of the caregiving tasks by a paid caregiver so they may participate in activities of their choice to help keep themselves mentally and emotionally well.
- Supplemental Services to assist with the cost of identified services (such as Personal Emergency Response System, simple home modifications, durable medical equipment, etc.) offered on a limited basis to compliment the care provided by the caregiver.
Individuals who are caring for an adult age 60 or older may be eligible. For more information about Family Caregiver Support services call Blue Rivers AAA at 402-223-1376 or 888-317-9417, or by visiting the Nebraska Lifespan Respite Network.