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Helping Those Who Care for Others
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Lynda Connelly
November 15, 2007

Topics in 'Family Caregiving' guide include home safety, personal care, caring for the caregiver, legal and financial issues, and dementia.
Topics in the Family Caregiving guide include home safety, personal care, caring for the caregiver, legal and financial issues, and dementia.
Richard Willis knows what it’s like to care for an aging family member. In the early 1990s, he cared for his mother; today, he cares for a 95 year-old woman in his “church family” as part of his congregation’s Encircling Care Program, which links volunteer caregivers to seniors and disabled people who need extra care and attention.

Willis is one of the large and growing number of adult caregivers. Roughly 50 million Americans now care for a disabled, chronically ill, or frail family member, and more will join their ranks as the U.S. population continues to age.

As Willis knows well, caring for a loved one can be rewarding but also tiring and time consuming. For most caregivers, there aren’t enough hours in the day to do what’s needed. Willis advises other family caregivers to avoid burnout, saying “Take time out, just for yourself.”

Tools for Caregivers

The American Red Cross helps support caregivers by offering the Philips Lifeline service, a personal response system for seniors and disabled people wanting to live independently in their own homes. In fact, Willis sought out the Lifeline service for his mother and the congregation member for whom he is now caring.

With Philips Lifeline, the user wears a lightweight, waterproof button and presses it if assistance is required. Lifeline uses voice-to-voice communication, thereby ensuring an appropriate response to any emergency situation. Even if the wearer does not answer, Lifeline sends assistance immediately and follows up later to ensure help arrives

In addition to Lifeline, the Red Cross now offers Family Caregiving, a quick reference guide with a companion DVD for individuals who help care for an elderly or chronically ill loved one. Topics covered in Family Caregiving include home safety, personal care, caring for the caregiver, legal and financial issues, and dementia.

To learn more about Lifeline, call 1-800-959-6989 or click here. To obtain a copy of Family Caregiving, order online through the Red Cross Store.

The American Red Cross helps people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. Last year, almost a million volunteers and 35,000 employees helped victims of almost 75,000 disasters; taught lifesaving skills to millions; and helped U.S. service members separated from their families stay connected. Almost 4 million people gave blood through the Red Cross, the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The American Red Cross is part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.

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