By Myles Macnamara
The number of unpaid family caregivers and its national economic value is staggering. The most recent study I could find was from 2006 and according to an AARP Public Policy Institute estimate, was over 354 billion (with a B!) dollars.
This is more than formal health/home care and nursing home care combined. Most older adults with long-term care needs live at home, either in their own homes, with or without a spouse, or in the home of a close relative or friend. In this setting the major long-term provider is the family and, to a lesser extent, other unpaid "informal" caregivers.
Don't miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered right to your inbox 
Lack of training for the unpaid family caregiver is also a problem confronting families today. Family members of friends are finding themselves in the position of doing things in the home for loved ones that would normally be done by a skilled, licensed medical provider or in home care agency. The National Family Caregivers Association has a nice website that addresses some of these issues: www.nfcacares.org .
If hiring an in-home care agency to help is not in your current plans, Comfort Keepers In-Home Care would like to offer our Skills Lab, used for training of our caregivers, to our community for those in the role of family caregiver and in need of non-medical, hands-on, assistance training free of charge. Our lab has a hospital bed, mechanical lift, walker, wheel chair, 3 in 1 portable commode, gate belts, and other tools we use to help an aging loved one in the home. We also have educational DVD’s on Dementia & Alzheimer’s, body mechanics, infection control, personal care, and more.
Knowing how to safely transfer someone without injury to them or the caregiver is paramount. An occupied bed change, proper standby assist, operating a mechanical lift, understanding the dynamics of a disease, all are part of being a family caregiver. We are located at 23900 Lyons Avenue, and you can call to schedule time at (661) 287-4200 if this seems it could benefit you. We will be scheduling group sessions as well as one on one. You can ask to speak to our Senior Care Manager Christy Moreland. Preparation is knowledge and knowledge is power.
Myles McNamara is the owner of Comfort Keepers In-Home Care, assisting seniors with independence and quality of life. He can be reached at (661) 287-4200 or by going to http://comfortkeepers.com/office-205 .