Caregiver support in Northern Nevada

Across the country today, more than 65 million people, or 29 percent of the population, are providing care for a chronically ill, disabled or elderly family member, according to the National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare. The value of those “free” services is estimated to be more than $375 billion, which is nearly twice as much as what is actually spent on home health care and nursing home services every year. The average family caregiver for someone 50 years or older spends $5,531 per year on out-of-pocket caregiving expenses.

Family caregivers who don’t receive support and help can quickly experience burnout — a sense of being physically, emotionally, and mentally drained that’s characterized by fatigue, fear, stress, anxiety, depression, despair, resentment and guilt. Caregivers enduring burnout may feel hopeless, resentful, isolated and trapped by their circumstances and can develop health issues of their own. It can also be extremely frustrating to research and find the financial and skill resources needed to provide the optimal level of care for a loved one.

Fortunately in Northern Nevada there are some excellent outlets to access the tools and resources for empowering family caregivers.

Support groups can be a great way to find valuable information, companionship and reassurance. Good starting points are the senior centers in every community, local hospitals and the Nevada Caregiver Support Center at the University of Nevada’s Center for Molecular Medicine. Every Wednesday a solutions oriented support group meets from 1-2:30 p.m. at UNR and the group also offers classes on best practices in the care of people with dementia, and healthy coping strategies for caregivers to improve their quality of life.

The VA presents caregivers with varied choices for assistance starting with the toll free Caregiver Support Line — 1-855-260-3274 — staffed by licensed professionals who can help navigate access to services or just provide a sympathetic ear. In partnership with the National Council on Aging, the VA also offers Building Better Caregivers a free six-week online workshop for family caregivers of veterans. The program provides an interactive opportunity to learn a variety of skills such as time and stress management, healthy eating, exercise and dealing with difficult emotions. In addition, the VA created a Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring program to connect caregivers and facilitate sharing experiences, wisdom, and guidance.

Other options are available through local chapters of organizations such as the Northern Nevada Alzheimer’s Association, at places like the Cancer Center at Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare in Carson City and through volunteers providing respite care at RSVP. Regional associations, as an example, the Partnership of Community Resources for Douglas County, publish annual directories of critical services including hotlines and numerous support groups.

State agencies like the Rural Regional Center (RRC) based in Carson City, also offer alternatives. RRC arranges services to children and adults living in rural counties of Nevada who are dealing with developmental and neurological challenges such as down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, and seizure disorders. Assistance includes financial aid for respite care, in-home training, counseling, behavioral consultation, and for those who qualify, financial grants.

For those who have Internet access via a computer or mobile device, the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) has a range of programs that can be a real lifeline, especially to those feeling isolated and alone.

The Caregiver Community Action Network (CCAN) is comprised of NFCA volunteers who are available to help educate, provide support and connect family caregivers. E-Communities offers a place to connect to other caregivers via email, post questions and seek advice. The Family Caregiver Forum is a place to ask questions, receive support and communicate with others in similar situations. Support is also available through the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA), which sponsors the Online Caregiver Support Group for families, partners and other caregivers of adults who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or the effects of stroke, brain injury and other chronic debilitating health conditions.

Additional information on caregiving issues can be found from: VA caregiver programs; Nevada Care Connection; Nevada 211; Nevada Senior Guide; Today’s (national magazine and website with local information); Well Spouse Association; ARCH National Respite Network: A service to help caregivers and professionals locate respite services in their community; Eldercare Locator: Connects older Americans (60-plus) and their caregivers with the local Area Agency on Aging’s Family Caregiver Support Program, which provides respite assistance, support groups and other services for caregivers,


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment