To the Editor:
In a recent column, Joan Oliver shared her story of the challenges of caring for an aging parent and, in her case, a spouse and the thoughts of her reader Marion. The vast majority of caregivers are not trained to take on this role. They, as Joan wrote, “stumble into it.” It can be hard. It can be frustrating. It can seem never-ending. It can be isolating.
Joan mentioned researching caregiving through the Alzheimer’s Association website and in the many books on the subject. Those are important resources. However, there are agencies and services right here in McHenry County that serve both the caregiver and their loved one. Independence Health and Therapy (which is the recently merged Family Alliance and Adult and Child Therapy Services) offers on-site adult day health programs and memory care programs.
These programs, located in Woodstock and Huntley, provide critical respite support for caregivers while giving their loved one a warm, engaging, safe environment to spend their day, under the supervision of trained staff and a nurse. We provide transportation to and from our facility, breakfast, lunch and snack, exercise, art, music and pet therapy among a wide array of daily activities.
Beyond the respite we provide, caregivers receive support through counseling and support groups for caregivers and regular caregiver workshops to help them manage and navigate the challenges they face. Nurses are available to discuss day-to-day issues with caregivers as they arise. Our nation is headed toward a caregiving crisis that will affect every community.
There are more than 40 million unpaid caregivers – such as Joan and Marion – in this country today, and that number will grow as the population of 65-plus years old is set to nearly double over the next 20 years. I want to thank Joan and Marion for sharing their experiences and challenges. The work of Independence Health and Therapy and our peer agencies is the foundation for strong, healthy families and community.
Executive Director, Independence Health and Therapy, Woodstock