SACRAMENTO, California–(BUSINESS WIRE)–After long absences, holiday gatherings can bring families much joy, but also difficult surprises. This holiday season, Mom or Dad may look different — more vulnerable, forgetful, or confused than during your last time together. A family member’s disability or memory loss may mean that your role in the family will change as their need for care increases.
For anyone already caring for a loved one at home, the holiday season can be particularly challenging, both to plan and execute, as the immediate needs of those cared for at home are often unpredictable and all-consuming.
“I remember some vacations with my mother when we were in the hospital all the time,” says Simone Nazzal, who put off college and returned home to care for her mother during her three-year battle with breast cancer. “We ring in the new year in a rehab center.”
The holidays provide an important time to recognize the role of carers and ensure they get the support they need. More than five million Californians serve as unpaid family carers, a role that can be incredibly rewarding but also takes a huge toll. Without support, informal care can be a significant burden with potential emotional, physical and financial consequences, especially for women who work outside the home.
California has many resources available to help. The state is leading the country in establishing a sustainable system of caregiver support, providing training for caregivers, adult day services programs, information centers for caregivers, and new technologies that can help support caregiving in the home and communities .
“By 2030, Californians age 60 and older will make up a quarter of the state’s population,” said Susan DeMarois, director of the California Department of Aging. “We are now making significant investments to ensure that our elderly receive the care and support they need at home and in their communities, so they can grow old safely.”
Brenda Boles was always struck by her husband’s intellect. When he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and later prostate cancer, Boles gave up a highly successful career as a recording artist to care for her husband until his death 10 years later.
“I think a lot of people think that caregiving isn’t going to be as exhausting as it is,” she said. “They think, well, I love this person, I can take care of them. How it will be in your head and the reality of it is very, very different.
Dealing with her husband’s sometimes puzzling behavior and her own physical and emotional exhaustion, Boles was grateful for the services of the independent, nonprofit Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center. Del Oro is one of 11 Caregiver Resource Centers in the state, funded by the California Department of Aging, federal and local funds, private foundations, and others, that provide caregivers with a range of services, including counseling, care planning, education, and respite care.
“They were great,” said Boles. “They gave me four hours at a time so I could go out and do things. Del Oro also offered me a therapist when I was depressed and didn’t know what to do.”
Michelle Nevins, executive director of the Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center in Citrus Heights, said the holiday season has always seen an increase in calls from family members seeking information and support, especially grief counseling, support groups and dementia education. , nutrition, elder law , and other topics.
Nevins said Caregiver Resource Centers are an important part of the state’s effort to create a health care delivery system that works, one of the main goals of the California Master Plan for Aging, a comprehensive 10-year effort to develop programs and expand access to care and services for all seniors and people with disabilities.
“With the Aging Master Plan, additional money is flowing into care delivery, which has been huge, allowing us to expand services and support for clients. We can reach more people,” she said.
As you celebrate family this holiday season, keep in mind that there are many resources available to help you navigate the journey of aging with your loved ones.
Note to editors: To schedule a phone or zoom interview with the individuals named in the press release, please contact Koula Gianulias, 310-795-9440.