A Quarter Century of Caregiver Support

 STILLWATER, Minn., Dec. 7, 2011— It was the first year of the Oprah Winfrey Show and the first time the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was celebrated that FamilyMeans launched its Caregiver Support program here in Stillwater. Over the past 25 years, Caregiver Support has reached thousands of families and individuals through in-home respite care, support groups, coaching and counseling, and education – the same programs that continue to be offered today.

“One aspect that has made our program unique from the start is our ability to serve individuals across the lifespan, from birth through old age,” said Deborah Wemette, director of community programs at FamilyMeans. “The biggest change over the years has been the opportunities we’ve had to serve more people with the increase in staff members and a larger volunteer base. We’ve been fortunate in always having had a strong staff and wonderful volunteers.”

In 1991, the fifth year of the Caregiver Support program, there were 2,794 service hours provided. Twenty years later in 2011, the service hours have increased to 14,630 hours with 1,561 people involved in the program at FamilyMeans.

According to the National Alliance of Caregiving, more than 65 million people, or 29 percent of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend in a given year with family caregivers spending an average of 20 hours each week caring for loved ones.

The Caregiver Support program continues to address the needs of the families and individuals needing care. Just this past summer the Day Out! program was created to allow care receivers the opportunity to receive respite care in a group setting at FamilyMeans. Other aspects of the Caregiver Support program, such as education and support groups, continue to be offered with regularity based on the community’s needs.

To learn more about Caregiver Support opportunities, contact FamilyMeans at (651) 439-4840.