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Caring for Caregivers: AARP Michigan Offers Support, Resources

PHOTO: Caregivers lend much more than a helping hand to help those they love, which is why AARP is reaching out to support - and honor - the role they play in their families and their community. Photo courtesy AARP.
PHOTO: Caregivers lend much more than a helping hand to help those they love, which is why AARP is reaching out to support - and honor - the role they play in their families and their community. Photo courtesy AARP.
November 18, 2014

LANSING, Mich. - They are unsung heroes: Millions of Michiganders who do "double duty" caring for aging parents, spouses, or loved ones.

But there are financial and emotional price tags to family caregivers, which is why AARP Michigan wants to connect caregivers with tools to ease the burden.

Lisa Whitmore Davis, associate state director for multicultural outreach and community engagement at AARP Michigan, says caregivers in Michigan provide 1.4 billion hours of unpaid care each year, all while attending to their own lives and jobs.

"We want them to take care of themselves physically and mentally, because it is very taxing to balance all of those responsibilities and still provide loving and meaningful care to their loved ones," she says.

In honor of National Caregivers Month, AARP Michigan is spotlighting caregiving resources at a new website. Caregivers and others can log on to share stories and find support at AARP.org/iheartcaregivers.

According to a recent poll, nearly 80 percent of Michiganders are either currently serving as a caregiver, have done so in the past, or anticipate they will in the future. According to Whitmore Davis, caregiving can be a very isolating experience, which is why the website aims to build community around the issue.

"It'll be a great repository of stories that will inspire as well as provide a form of support to other caregivers who are out there and may feel alone, or that they're facing something alone," she says.

AARP Michigan estimates the value of unpaid work provided by the state's 2.1 million caregivers at roughly $16 billion per year. That includes managing medications, finances, bathing and dressing, meal preparation, transportation, grocery shopping, and much more.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI