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New Support Group Designed for Caregivers

July 17, 2008

By Eric Freeman, Columbus Telegram, Neb.

Jul. 17–COLUMBUS — Family caregivers in the Columbus will soon have a new support resource designed specifically for those who are providing care to a loved one or friend.

The Columbus Senior Center hosted a luncheon at New World Inn this week for 20 invited guests. The purpose of the meeting was to provide information about the Family Caregiver Support Program and the development of a Caregiver Support Group for Columbus area caregivers.

Linda Wells, a representative of The Northeast Nebraska Area Agency on Aging presented the information.

“As our population ages, and the baby boomers reach retirement age, the number of caregivers continue to grow by leaps and bounds,” Wells said. “The purpose of the Family Caregiver Support Program is to assist the caregiver in ways that helps them care for their loved ones, friends or neighbors as long as possible.”

She said the goal is to offer support that strengthens the emotional and mental well-being of the caregiver and to assist the family caregivers with needed information, assistance and relief services.

Wells said the agency defines a caregiver as a person who is assisting another person to live independently in their home. She said the first goal of the program is to identify caregivers in the area and the services already available to them.

Wells said caregivers include a spouse caring for a spouse, children who assist in caring for their aging parents, grandparents over the age of 60 who care for or raise their young grandchildren; a neighbor or friend who is caring for their aging neighbor and parents of disabled children.

Wells said the program’s five areas of focus includes identifying area caregivers, assisting them in accessing available services, providing group support and training, providing financial assistance for needed respite services and making some supplemental services available.

Wells said all of these components are already available and functional for area caregivers with the exception of a local caregiver support group.

“The agency currently has 10 caregiver support groups in our area that are each unique and aimed at meeting the needs of those people in those areas,” Wells said. “Our hope would be to have a caregiver support group up and running by the end of August at the latest and it will be unique to the needs of caregivers in the Columbus area.”

Wells said caregiver support group meetings typically last from an hour and a half to two hours. She encouraged those in attendance to reach out and refer area caregivers to the program.

Participation in the programs and the assistance provided is free and there is no income based eligibility component to the Family Caregiver Support Program.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Columbus Telegram, Neb.

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