As a member of the Washington State Council on aging, I am writing this letter because November is National Family Caregivers Month. The theme for 2016 is “Take Care to Give Care.”
Caregiving deserves our attention. Over 900,000 Washington State citizens serve as unpaid family caregivers. According to data from the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services, uncompensated, informal caregiving is estimated to be valued at $10.6 billion. These unpaid caregivers lose about $300,000 in salary & benefits in their lifetime.
Caregiving can be rewarding, but also physically and emotionally demanding. The stress of dealing with the responsibilities leads to a higher risk of health issues among the nation’s 90 million family caregivers. As a caregiver for my mother living with Alzheimer’s for 10 years, I know how emotionally and financially draining this can be. Something as simple as a bit of time for self-care in the form of respite activities can make all the difference.
For information on the Family Caregiver Support Program please call the Pierce County Community Connections, Aging and Disability Resource Center at (253) 798-4600.