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  2003 Press Releases  

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Nikki Smith
Phone: 1-217-785-9020, TTY: 1-800-252-8966

November 1, 2003

Family Caregivers Recognized

SPRINGFIELD, IL – Thank a caregiver during November. That is the message from Illinois Department on Aging Director Charles D. Johnson. Noting that November is National Family Caregivers Month, Johnson said that caregivers provide a critical service to their families, their communities, and their state.

"Caregiving is what families are all about," Johnson said today. "They define quality of life for their families."

But, he said, the task is draining – socially, economically and psychologically. "Too often caregivers ignore their own health and well-being in taking on this task of love. During this month of focus on the caregiver, I urge Illinoisans to reach out to their friends and neighbors who care for spouses, siblings, grandchildren and disabled adult children."

Johnson said that there are many ways to thank a caregiver, such as providing respite care, a meal, transportation, and help around the house.

"Reach out and tell caregivers that you understand the challenges that they face," he said.

There are about 1.5 million family caregivers in Illinois, Johnson said, and they provide care to dependent family and friends in a wide range of circumstances, both in their own homes and by long-distance.

Family caregivers provide $257 billion worth of "free" caregiving services each year. Over 80 percent of homecare services are provided by family caregivers and more than 60 percent of today’s adult population either is, or expects to be, a family caregiver, according to the National Family Caregivers Association.

One-third of all caregivers describe their own health as fair to poor, reports the U.S. Administration on Aging. In addition, almost one-third of all caregivers are balancing employment and caregiving responsibilities, which means they are rearranging work schedules, working fewer than normal hours, and taking unpaid leaves of absence.

According to survey findings from the National Alliance for Caregiving, 76 percent of caregivers are female, and the average age of caregivers is 60.

The Department on Aging has set up over 150 Caregiver Resource Centers throughout the state to aid caregivers through support groups, information, and resource referral. A national telephone number, 1-800-677-1116, also links caregivers to help in other states, he noted.

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