We Care for the Caregivers

Recently, the Boston Globe published an opinion piece, “Family Caregivers Need More Support." This thought-provoking piece was prompted by a study conducted by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health discerning the impact of caregiving on more than 1,700 family caregivers. The study calls attention to the crucial part caregivers play in the way health care is delivered and highlights the need to recognize and support family caregivers.

We agree with the Globe. It is time to recognize the important work of family caregivers. Family caregivers are the foundation of our healthcare ecosystem. Without them, our country would spend a great deal more than three trillion dollars on that ecosystem. By 2050, the Baby Boomer generation will represent 20 percent of the population, a doubling from where we are today. Aging with dignity and remaining at home, at an affordable cost, will be directly tied to how much we respect and empower family caregivers.

For the past ten years, our team at Caregiver Homes has been solely focused on the importance of the family caregiver. Operating in six states, we see first-hand that family caregivers are the reason our most complex citizens are able to remain at home.  Now more than ever, we need to innovate as a country to provide these trusted family members with more consistent support and targeted resources. One example of such innovation is our VOICE (Vital Outcomes Inspired by Caregiver Engagement) dementia program. Through our decade of experience supporting caregivers, we have learned that behavioral symptoms associated with dementia have a profoundly negative impact on those serving loved ones with this life-altering disease. As an evidence-informed, competency-based training program for staff and family caregivers, VOICE helps caregivers manage and potentially prevent the behavioral symptoms of dementia.

Results from VOICE have been encouraging as caregivers implement strategies that help them manage extremely challenging situations. Our experience reminds us daily that caregivers are proud of the commitment they are making but appreciative of the support and resources they are given. We will continue to develop high-impact programs to reinforce and promote their good work.

Caregivers are an invisible army that can no longer be ignored. They are simply too valuable. We recognize, respect and remain inspired by our caregivers, and applaud the commitment of family that steps up to take care of family.

Originally posted March 10, 2016 by Tom Riley, President and Chief Executive Officer of Seniorlink.