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Caring for elders

At some point in our lives, each of us will likely take care of an older person we’re close to, who needs help with everyday activities and eventually, most of us will need to be taken care of. Daughters and sons take care of their parents when they get older, because that’s what families do. Spouses take care of each other.

These caregivers are the unsung heroes at the very center of our system of elder care. It’s something most people hardly think about – until you have to. Then the phone rings, and you hear that your mother, father, spouse, auntie or uncle has broken a hip or suffered a stroke. In that instant, you become a different person. You’re now a caregiver.

Caregiving can mean anything from help with tasks of daily living — to increasingly sophisticated medical support. It can require heavy lifting, great patience, and the ability to keep on going — with little or no support. Though done with love, it can be isolating, stressful, and lonely.

There are, 247,000 unpaid family caregivers in Hawaii who provide 162 million hours of care to their loved ones. Those trips to the grocery store, visits to the doctor, help with finances and other aspects of daily life would cost an estimated $2 billion a year if people had to pay for these services.

Many caregivers struggle to maintain their own physical and emotional well-being while caring for the people they love. Because they don’t necessarily think of themselves as family caregivers, they often do not reach out to find others in the same situation or to look for help. And caregivers are facing increasing pressure. Most caregivers are working and managing their own families at the same time.

Free Caregiver Workshop On Oct. 18 from 8:30 a.m. to noon

AARP Hawaii, the Alzheimer’s Association Aloha Chapter, Kauai Hospice, and Share the Care want to help. On Saturday, Oct. 18, Kauai residents who are helping older adults or planning for their own futures are invited to attend a free caregiver workshop at the Kauai Beach Resort. The workshop will feature a resource fair, caregiver panel and keynote address as well as four break out topics, from which participants will pick two. The breakout topics are:

w Coping with Challenging Behavior in Dementia and Alzheimer’s

w Share the Care – Creating a Care Team

w Creating a 5 Wishes Document

w Medicare Open Enrollment Check Up

This is a free event but participants are asked to register by going online to: http://aarp.cvent.com/kauaicare or calling (toll free) 1-877-926-8300.

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Jackie Boland is with AARP Hawaii.

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