November is National Family Caregiver's Month. To raise awareness for caregivers locally and throughout the U.S., the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) is taking advantage of this presidential proclamation.
"At the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, we celebrate caregivers year-round," said Leisa Easom, Ph.D., executive director of the RCI. "We are thankful that our nation gives formal recognition to caregivers in the month of November."
The RCI is an advocacy, education, research, and service unit of Georgia Southwestern State University. The Institute focuses on the promotion of caregiver health, skills and resilience.
According to Easom, the nation is facing a caregiving crisis. "Our aging population, increased longevity and the growing burden of chronic illnesses escalate the need for caregivers. Caregivers need support and community programs to help them remain healthy and maintain care for one another," she said.
More than 65 million family caregivers in the U.S. provide care for dependent elderly individuals, and to adults and children with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Research has found that family caregivers report frequent stress, high rates of clinical depression and more health problems in general than the non-caregiving population. The RCI works to combat this issue.
Beginning in the 1990s, the RCI developed the CARE-NET (Caregivers Network) program as a coalition of caregiver support organizations across a broad array of illnesses and disabilities. Each of the 12 community CARE-NETs are located in a Georgia Area Agency on Aging (AAA) district. This coalition involves leaders and advocates from community and state agencies, private corporations and churches together with family caregivers. The RCI and Georgia CARE-NET Coalitions celebrate the contributions of caregivers, recognize their challenges and proactively work to bring all sectors of society together to develop practical solutions to the needs of caregivers.
Grant money from the Administration on Aging (AoA) is allowing the RCI to educate people on dementia health issues. In a partnership with the Georgia Department of Aging Services, the RCI is hosting educational webinars throughout the state to facilitate learning about dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Johnson & Johnson provides funding to the RCI to train and establish programs of caregiver support to eight sites across the nation. The programs at four of these sites target caregiver support of military service members and veterans. Four additional sites focus on support for caregivers caring for loved ones with dementia.
These initiatives only touch on part of what the Rosalynn Carter Institute seeks to accomplish. The RCI has established many other local, states, national, and international partnerships committed to building quality long-term, home and community- based services. With ample support, the RCI is making great strides in averting the caregiving crisis.
For more information on the Rosalynn Carter Institute or its programs, call (229) 928-1234 or visit www.rosalynncarter.org.