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Caring for the Caregiver

Posted June 02, 2016 by Shirley Ashbrook

June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month and according to an estimate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 5.3 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's in the U.S. Eighty percent of those with the disease receive care in their homes from a loved one who has made the choice to take on the role of caregiver.

Caregiving is often a full-time job – if not physically, then certainly psychologically and emotionally. Individuals who assume the responsibility of caring for another person are most successful when they:

  • Admit caregiving is not easy
  • Accept help when it’s offered or ask for help if/when they need it
  • Access community services (many organizations provide valuable services to caregivers as well as to those who need help)
  • Address their own needs

Recognizing a need to care for the caregiver as well as the patient, Summa Health System offers several programs designed to offer support and provide information to those who find themselves in the role of caregiver for a loved one.

In 2007, Summa launched a caregiver training program to meet the needs of those in our community who are caring for a loved one. The Circle of Care Program provides education and valuable information about available community resources that can help make caregiving for someone you love a less stressful and more rewarding experience.

According to Alzheimer’s Association statistics, nearly half of care contributors cut back on their own expenses to pay for the care of a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s. Caregivers are 28 percent more likely to eat less or go hungry, and one in five caregivers cut back on their own doctor visits due to their caregiver responsibilities.

Whether you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or another health issue, it’s important to take some time to address your own health. Take breaks, keep up with your personal medical needs and ask for support from family, friends and other caregivers to help maintain effective caregiving. 

Shirley Ashbrook
Manager, Hospice & Palliative Support Services
Summa at Home™


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If your situation is an emergency, call 911.