Rise in Caregivers Demonstrates a Need
According to a report released in May 2020 by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, nearly 1 in 5 Americans (19%) are providing care to an adult with health or functional needs. Additionally, those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia has risen from 22% in 2015 to 26% of the total population of caregivers in 2020.
The research cites that there may be a number of reasons for this increase in prevalence including:
- Increasing number of baby boomer population requiring more care
- Limitations or workforce shortages in the health care or long-term services and support care systems
- Increased efforts by states to facilitate home and community based services
- Increasing number of Americans self-identifying as caregivers
According to the full report, which can be downloaded here, many of these caregivers are taking on these duties without adequate financial, emotional, and physical supports in place. There is also a significant amount of time involved in performing the role of caregiver, with today’s caregivers on average performing about 24 hours of care each week.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, caregivers were already reporting greater levels of poor health, loneliness, and increased stress and strain. The study cites increased challenges brought to caregivers as a result of the current healthcare climate, especially those caring for the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions.
A major need of caregivers coming out of the report is for information and training to support their daily life. There is a growing need by caregivers for some level of services and supports, like respite care, and those aimed at helping them to keep their loved one at home for as long as possible.
It is from identification of this growing gap in our own local community and witnessing the needs of the caregivers we have encountered by serving seniors for more than 120 years, that St. John’s embarked on the creation of a new offering specifically tailored to at home dementia caregivers.
More than a year ago, we recognized that our expertise as a direct care provider of skilled services for adults with dementia and the tools, best practices, and lessons learned through trial over the years, could help those caring for loved ones at home. We believed we could extend the reach of our support and help adults with dementia and their caregivers long before they have the need for higher levels of care. And, that is how the idea of St. John’s Dementia Resource Center was born.
Six months after behind the scenes development and persevering with this important mission despite the throws of the pandemic, St. John’s is pleased to unveil the first phase of this exciting project–an Online Dementia Resource Center, featuring free support to local at home caregivers.
On this website, we offer free articles, blog posts, videos, and other content with our own brand of wisdom tempered with experience to help at home caregivers get through the day (and night). Some of our own residents, who are themselves caregivers, appear in videos, and our staff member experts author blog content, or provide insight into the answers to questions we hear every day.
One unique feature of the site of which we are particularly excited about, is Ask Mimi. In her 20 years at St. John’s, Mimi DeVinney (our Dementia/Quality of Life Specialist) has heard dozens of questions about caring for people living with dementia. On St. John’s Online Dementia Resource Center every Monday, Mimi is the “Dear Abby” for dementia caregivers and provides answers to submitted questions.
There are so many resources we have initially posted for at home caregivers and much more to come in 2021 and beyond. Check out the site and return often. St. John’s is honored to be a partner to at home caregivers on what can be a very challenging journey. Together we will learn and grow–because experience is life’s best teacher.