When caregiving gets tough, a bounty of agencies stand by to lend support

By Stefanie Donahue

According to a 2015 study from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, an estimated 43.5 million people in the U.S. had provided unpaid care to an adult or child within 12 months of being asked the question.

Termed a “national snapshot of family caregiving in the United States,” the study goes on to state that 46 percent of caregivers who put in more than 21 hours of work per week reported high levels of emotional stress, while 21 percent reported high levels of financial strain.

According to the study, 34 percent of caregivers work a full-time job, while 25 percent work part time.

“We’re especially concerned that not enough is being done to support family caregivers in the public or private sector as they age,” read a statement from Gail Gibson Hunt, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving at the time of the study’s release. “There’s a double-edged sword when we fail to support caregivers, because we put both the caregiver and the care recipient at risk.”

With more than 800,000 caregivers in Washington state, a number of agencies have stepped in to offer support. We’ve compiled brief a list of state and local agencies nearby that offer assistance:

The Alzheimer Society of Washington
Website: alzsociety.org

From 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month, the Alzheimer Society of
Washington offers a memory loss support group at the Blaine Senior Center to offer support and education to caregivers, family and friends.

Northwest Regional Council (NRC)
Website: nwrcwa.org

NRC serves the communities of Island, San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties and offers assistance to seniors and adults with disabilities that are in need of care. NRC features a variety of handouts on their website that cover topics related to caregiver support, legal issues and long-term care, among other things.

Helping Hearts and Hands
Website: helpingheartsandhands.org

Helping Hearts and Hands is a nonprofit that specializes in educating and training caregivers about managing symptoms of chronic disease. The organization serves individuals in Skagit, Island, Snohomish, San Juan and Whatcom counties and aims to educate the public about palliative care.

Northwest Adult Day Health and Wellness Center
Website: nwadultdayhealth.com/learn-more/

Formerly sponsored by PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, the program is now managed by the Northwest Adult Day Health & Wellness Center. It operates Monday through Friday to help individuals with long-term illness or disability build strength and gain independence.

PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Caregiver Support Group
Website: peacehealth.org/st-joseph/services/adult-day-health-services

This group meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month to learn from guest speakers and engage in facilitated discussion. The meetings take place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the rehab conference room, located at the PeaceHealth south campus on 809 E. Chestnut Street in Bellingham.

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services
Website: dshs.wa.gov/altsa/home-and-community-services/caregiver-resources

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services offers an expansive list of available resources for caregivers in need of support.

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