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Giving Iowa's 500,000 Caregivers Help for the Holidays

PHOTO: There are about 500,000 family caregivers in the state, many of whom could use a helping hand this time of year. Photo credit: AARP.
PHOTO: There are about 500,000 family caregivers in the state, many of whom could use a helping hand this time of year. Photo credit: AARP.
December 8, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa – For the hundreds of thousands of unpaid family caregivers across the state, the best gift this holiday season may not come wrapped in a bow.

Many caregivers already may be overwhelmed with their daily responsibilities on top of helping keep loved ones at home and independent.

And Ann Black, associate state director for communications for AARP Iowa, says during this busy time of the year, that stress is magnified even more.

"While they're the first to say they wouldn't have it any other way, caregivers really have an overwhelming, 24/7 job,” she stresses. “So offering to assist your neighbor or a coworker or a friend during this busy time is one of the best gifts you could ever give."

Black says that assistance can include running errands, doing household chores or taking over the care-giving responsibilities for some time to give them a respite.

For those who are caregivers, Black says they need to understand that it is OK to take the time out for themselves to manage their stress and to reach out for help and support.

"So that's why AARP is launching a new initiative called I Heart Caregivers to help caregivers get the support they need and have a forum to share their stories and connect with others who are on this same journey of caregiving," she says.

Currently, there are about a half-million people statewide providing care for a loved one, and that number continues to grow.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - IA