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Wrapping up National Family Caregiver Month

National Family Caregivers Month is over, but the critical role of family caregivers is unending. Let's keep the awareness, issues, and solutions conversation going year-round.

Addressing the needs of older adults without recognizing and supporting their caregivers is short-sighted. Without them, this country would have to come up with $306 billion worth of paid care to meet older adults' most basic needs like meals, rides, bathing, and dressing, and even complex medical and nursing tasks that increasingly are expected of family members.

These caregivers provide the vast majority of all long-term care, often putting their own health, jobs, and financial security in jeopardy. We know that caregivers have a higher incidence of chronic disease than non-caregivers and have high rates of depression, their careers are often interrupted or cut short, and they absorb out-of-pocket caregiving expenses and save less for their own retirement.

With adequate support, caregivers can perform the eldercare role better and longer, and they can maintain their own well-being in the process. Besides the purely economic reason, supporting family caregivers is simply the right thing to do. Aging issues are caregiving issues. Aging issues are family issues.

Greg Konat, DARTS president and CEO

Upcoming information sessions you might find helpful:

If you would like information about Advance Care Directives or help completing one with your loved one, contact Rev. Peter Morlock, Advanced Care Planning chaplain at Regina Medical Center. He can be reached by calling 651-480-4587.

This winter, the Hastings nonprofits that support this column are going to host a gathering of caregivers so we can hear from you about ways we might better support your efforts. Please watch this column for information about this upcoming gathering and consider joining the conversation.

One caregiver's reflections on caring for older loved ones:

Caring Reflections /The Beeper

My dad has a beeper that goes off at pill-taking times, which for him are quite frequent. Two beeps means there are 10 minutes left. Another two beeps come at the five-minute mark, and again at three minutes. Then a very long string of beeps (60 seconds worth) marks the appointed time. This low-tech tool is both helpful and annoying.

Sometimes Dad will watch the seconds count down, hold onto the little yellow pill until the exact right moment, push the button to turn off the noise and reset it, and take the medication. But other times, since he can't really hear the sound himself anymore, the noise continues until one of us prompts him and shuts it off. Those beeping minutes seem to last forever and irritate me like a mosquito buzzing around my ear.

I suppose there are other reminder gadgets my parents could try, but as irritating as these beeps can be, they're also sort of comforting. They've become part of the ambience and rhythm of the household, just like the three daily visits from "The Ladies" and watching Jeopardy at 4:30 p.m.

(Editor's note: Beth's complete online journal can be found at: http://www.darts1


For a resource guide for service providers who can help in your caregiver journey, please stop by the Hastings Senior Center in the Tilden Community Center, or go online to:



If you would like to submit a question or concern about your own caregiving experience, and get direct, one-to-one information and advice from a licensed social worker and eldercare advisor, please visit:

-caregiving-advisor or call 651-455-1560.