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Report: Caregivers Seeking Rest Face Barriers

Nearly a half-million family caregivers provide 437 million hours of care each year for loved ones in Oregon, according to a new report. (sarcifilippo/Pixabay)
Nearly a half-million family caregivers provide 437 million hours of care each year for loved ones in Oregon, according to a new report. (sarcifilippo/Pixabay)
December 23, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. - Nearly a half-million family caregivers in Oregon provide 437 million hours of care each year, but taking a break from caregiving can be difficult. A new report from AARP offers recommendations on how to make respite for caregivers more easily accessible.

Jon Bartholomew, director of government relations for AARP Oregon, said stress from caregiving can lead to health problems.

"We know from other research that's been done that the impact of caregiving on people who just care for people with Alzheimer's disease leads to higher health-care costs of over $100 million a year in Oregon," Bartholomew said.

AARP Oregon convened a work group to produce the report and got public input at 14 community meetings across the state. One of the biggest findings was that many caregivers lack awareness of where to find respite services. Bartholomew said one of the best resources in the state is the website

Kathy Couch works full-time for the city of Portland and also is caring for her husband, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease three years ago and had to retire. Couch said she has a supportive group of friends and family, but feels guilty asking them to help care for her husband. She said juggling the dual responsibilities of work and caregiving is exhausting.

"I don't have time to just be me, you know? I feel like I'm living for everybody else all the time," she said, "and I'm disappearing."

According to a national survey by AARP, 52 percent of caregivers work full time.

The report offered a number of recommendations for respite options, including partnering with community colleges and universities to provide care, along with training opportunities for students. For working Oregonians, Bartholomew said paid family leave is a legislative solution that will be on the table during the coming session.

"Let's say your mother had a stroke, and you need to spend some time helping your mother out with those caregiving responsibilities," she said. "Paid family medical leave guarantees that you have a job to come back to, and that you can make ends meet while you're taking the time off to care for your loved one."

The report is online at

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - OR