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Caregiving Chronicles

News and analysis on caregiving topics in MetroWest and beyond.

Caregiving Chronicles

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Caregiving Chronicles will present news and analysis on caregiving topics in MetroWest and around the world, in-depth Q&As with experts in fields related to caregiving and updates and announcements about caregiving resources available in MetroWest from CaregivingMetroWest.org Program Director Douglas Flynn.


Web portal designed to make caregiving a little easier
By Douglas Flynn / May 27, 2014

By Martin D. Cohen

Odds are if you are over 45, you already are or soon will be a caregiver. Seventy-five percent of all care received by older adults in the United States is provided by family members and friends, and many do not even identify themselves as caregivers.

What is particularly interesting about caregiving is that it is not a role most of us aspire to. Rather it is a role that is usually thrust upon us. A sudden illness, a fall, loss of loved one, or even a loss of a license, can quickly put us in the role of primary caregiver. And that's when the work really begins.

We struggle to understand what our caregiving role really is. We struggle to understand what is best for the one we are caring for. We struggle to find balance between our own lives and our new caregiving responsibilities. Seventy percent of caregivers need to rearrange work schedules, reduce their work hours or take unpaid leave in order to be an effective caregiver. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, the 10 million children who care for parents  over age 50 will lose an estimated $3 trillion in lost wages, retirements benefits, pensions and Social Security benefits, and women lose more than men, an average of $324,044 as compared to $283,716.

So what is the first thing we do as caregivers? We go to the web in search of information, agencies and resources, anything that can help us get a handle on how best to provide care. Google “caregiving” and you get 2.7 million hits. Want to narrow that down for Massachusetts - 1.9 million hits; narrow it even further for MetroWest - you get 71,000 listings. And of course, many of these sites are of just trying to sell you something or simply provide a list of names and addresses.

In 2010, the MetroWest Health Foundation convened a Commission on Healthy Aging to look at the growing needs of older adults in MetroWest. In early 2011, the Commission issued a report with recommendation for how our region could better prepare for the 50 percent increase in the population of adults age 65 and older we will experience in the next 15 years.

One of the Commission's recommendations was to "expand and build upon existing caregiver support and education programs and services... and develop and disseminate materials that will assist caregivers and promote their self-identification as caregivers." Since that report was issued, the foundation has provided more than $1.6 million in grants to support healthy aging initiatives in MetroWest.

This past week, with support from the foundation, BayPath Elder Services, the area’s designated agency on aging, launched a new caregiving resource for the region. www.CaregivingMetroWest.org is a comprehensive web portal designed to provide tailored information about the needs of older adults. From finding a drugstore that delivers, to understanding the difference between adult day health and adult day care, the website is specifically designed to address the needs of caregivers within our 25 MetroWest communities. To ensure the utility of the site’s content, its development was guided by an advisory board made up of local caregivers. The website also connects to the vast information and referral network that BayPath maintains in support of area caregivers.

Caregiving can be tough work. The addition of Caregiving MetroWest will hopefully make it a little easier.

(Martin Cohen is the president of the MetroWest Health Foundation. This column originally appeared in the May 25, 2014 edition of the MetroWest Daily News.)



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BayPath Elder Services, Inc

Caregiving MetroWest is a no-cost program of BayPath Elder Services, Inc. and was made possible in part by grants from the MetroWest Health Foundation.

Avidia Bank

BayPath Elder Services, Inc.'s Family Caregiver Support Program and Caregiving MetroWest are grateful for the generous support of our community partner, Avidia Bank, which helps us continue to give area family caregivers the information, resources and support they need.