Long term care planning can often involve the use of family caregivers to provide services to older loved ones.  Who is a caregiver?  It could be anyone who helps an older person with medication, drives an older person to appointments, picks up groceries or prescriptions, or assists with bathing, dressing and cleaning.  Sometimes, caregivers need a little support, which is what a new program is designed to do.   

In Allegheny County, Familylinks has started a new program to support caregivers, known as the “Caregivers First Initiative.”  It is a FREE program for adult caregivers who provide care to someone over the age of 60 in Allegheny County and who may be struggling to balance caregiving with their own lives or work.  Leaders from the Caregivers First Initiative spoke last week at the Allegheny County Bar Association Elder Law Committee meeting to let local elder law attorneys know about this program, which started about 4 months ago.  It can be helpful when doing long term care planning to know about support for family caregivers.

A  Care Coach from the Caregivers First Initiative conducts an initial screening and then will meet with the caregivers 12 times in a six-month period, either at home or over the telephone.  The Care Coach can provide emotional support, skills training, stress management and caregiving education.  The goals of this program include empowering caregivers to use new tools and resources, developing stress management and problem-solving skills, connecting caregivers to other caregivers and to help caregivers find and use their own strengths to be better caregivers for their elderly loved ones. 

For more information or to become a member of this great new program, call Familylinks Caregivers First Initiative at 412-924-0400.  The better supported the caregivers are, the better support they will be able to provide to their elderly loved ones.