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Free support service launches for Central Texas caregivers

Caregivers learn, share through telephone learning sessions

 
PRLog - Nov. 30, 2010 - SAN ANTONIO -- Austin, Texas – A free interactive program is now available to help a growing population of Central Texas caregivers who face enormous stress and challenges in caring for loved ones.

The Capital Area Caregiver Teleconnection is only the second program of its kind in the United States.  The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area and the WellMed Charitable Foundation have partnered to launch the program, funded through a three-year, $600,000 grant from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

The program’s goal is to improve the quality of life and well-being of caregivers in the 10-county service region of the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area. The program will offer support and counseling for caregivers through scheduled tele-learning sessions covering a variety of life-changing topics with professional caregiving experts, providing an opportunity for caregivers to share information with each other.

Caregivers can contact the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area for more information by calling 512-916-6062 or toll-free at 1-888-622-9111, or by e-mail at aaacap@capcog.org. Or they can call the Caregiver Teleconnection hotline toll free at 1-877-7987 or 1-866-390-6491.

Increasing numbers of people are becoming caregivers for family members, but many feel isolated and often helpless. Studies show caregivers can suffer from stress and severe depression. The Capital Area Caregiver Teleconnection connects caregivers with professionals and other caregivers community-wide.

The program is based upon the successful CareRing Voice Network in Montreal, Canada, where 96% of tele-learning participants are repeat users.

Demographics and Ethnicity
•   59-75% percent of caregivers are female.
•   The majority of caregivers are middle-aged (35-64 years old).
•   Of those caring for someone age 65-plus, the average age is 63; One third of these caregivers are in fair to poor health.
•   In a national study that looked at people receiving care who were 70+ years old, 44% of Latinos were found to receive informal home care compared to 34% of African-Americans and 25% of non-Hispanic whites.

Health Concerns
•   Studies have found that caregivers may have increased blood pressure and insulin levels, may have impaired immune systems, and may be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease among other adverse health outcomes. Many die before their care recipient.
•   Elderly spousal caregivers (aged 66-96) who experience caregiving-related stress have a 63% higher mortality rate than noncaregivers of the same age.
•   Studies consistently report higher levels of depressive symptoms and mental health problems among caregivers than among their noncaregiving peers.
•   20-50% of caregivers reporting depressive disorders or symptoms.

Future Trends in Caregiving
•   The population aged 65 and over will more than double by 2030 and the likelihood of someone achieving age 90 or older has also increased by the same levels.  In 2050, 40% of 65 year olds will live to age 90 or older.
•   As a result, the need for caregiver support programs will dramatically increase over the coming years.
•   Adequate support for caregivers now and in the future means fewer proportional outlays of public dollars for institutional care.

Sources:  Family Caregiver Alliance, National Center on Caregiving, www.caregiver.org; National Family Caregivers Association, www.thefamilycaregiver.org

The Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area is a division of the Capital Area Council of Governments. Offering programs in caregiver support, care coordination, falls prevention and more, the AAA of the Capital Area has been serving the counties of Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, llano, Travis & Williamson since 1982.

# # #

About WellMed Charitable Foundation: The WellMed Charitable Foundation (www.wellmedgives.org) is a non-profit 501(C)3 organization that supports seniors and their caregivers in several South and Central Texas communities with special emphasis on wellness, prevention and living with chronic illness. Established in 2006 by Dr. George M. Rapier III, a noted geriatrician and the Chairman of the Board, the Foundation has contributed more than $3 million to Texas-based charities.

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