The Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) is raising awareness of resources available to unpaid family caregivers during National Family Caregivers Month, a nationwide observance led by the Caregiver Action Network (CAN) and celebrated every November.
“Most everyone has been, or will be, a caregiver at some point in their life,” said IDoA Director Paula Basta. “Caregiving is a near universal experience, and it is an act of love, but the physical, emotional and financial demands of caregiving can lead to high stress levels and burnout. Illinois’ Aging Network offers a variety of resources for anyone who needs support in their role as a caregiver.”
Family caregiving is very common; according to AARP, in 2020, one in five Americans were caregivers. Many caregivers live with or near the person for whom they provide care, while others may be long-distance caregivers residing in another city or state. No matter their circumstances, a variety of resources are available to family caregivers through IDoA, Illinois’ 13 regional Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), and numerous partner organizations.
AAAs can refer caregivers to locally available programs after assessing their needs and stress levels using a tool called TCARE. Possible referrals can include evidence-based training programs such as Savvy Caregiver®, Stress-Busting Program for Family Caregivers™, support groups, counseling and gap-filling services. Respite services are also available to provide caregivers with short-term relief for up to several days at a time.
To assess the extent to which currently available resources are meeting caregivers’ needs, IDoA has hosted 14 caregiver roundtables since August, with three additional roundtables scheduled for Nov. 1, 2 and 3. To date, more than 360 participants have shared their insights to help shape future policies and initiatives that address the specific concerns of family caregivers across Illinois.
IDoA serves and advocates for older Illinoisans and their caregivers by administering quality and culturally appropriate programs that promote partnerships and encourage independence, dignity, and quality of life. For information about the Department’s programs and services for older adults and persons with disabilities, visit https://ilaging.illinois.gov/ or contact the Senior HelpLine toll-free at 1-800-252-8966, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.