Family Caregivers, Raise Your Hands, Find Relief

by Michael Lightbody | Published November 30, 2021

If you had the choice, would you sign up for a part-time job at 20 hours a week on top of your current full-time job?

Consider a working, single mother of two middle schoolers, who recently became a “part-time” caregiver for her aging parents. Both in their 80s, her parents struggle to manage finances, keep up with home repairs, and get to many doctors’ appointments. Balancing work and caregiving leaves her little time for herself. This real-life story mirrors that of so many people who find themselves in unexpected, demanding part-time careers. Too often, caregivers struggle in silence without support.

Across the U.S., stakeholders increasingly recognize the need to better identify and support family caregivers, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the state level, Iowa is exploring ways to identify caregivers who need support, including through collaboration with other states in the Center for Health Care Strategies’ Helping States Support Families Caring for an Aging America initiative, made possible by the John A. Hartford Foundation. This op-ed in the Des Moines Register by staff from the Iowa Department on Aging and Area Agencies on Aging shares how these agencies are working together to more effectively support family caregivers throughout the state, and encourages caregivers to “raise their hands” for help.

Written by Linda Miller, Kay Vanags and Kristie Wiltgen

Linda Miller is the director of the Iowa Department on Aging. Kay Vanags is the LifeLong Links director for Aging Resources of Central Iowa. Kristie Wiltgen is the regional director at Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging.

Published November 28, 2021 – updated 11/29/21

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