AMERICUS —November is National Family Caregiver’s Month – an opportune time to recognize caregivers. The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) is taking advantage of this presidential proclamation to raise awareness for caregivers locally and throughout the U.S.“At the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, we celebrate caregivers year round,” said Leisa Easom, Ph.D., executive director of the RCI. “We are thankful that our nation gives formal recognition to caregivers in the month of November.”
The RCI is an advocacy, education, research, and service unit of Georgia Southwestern State University. The Institute focuses on the promotion of caregiver health, skills and resilience.
According to Easom, the nation is facing a caregiving crisis. “Our aging population, increased longevity and the growing burden of chronic illnesses escalate the need for caregivers. Caregivers need support and community programs to help them remain healthy and maintain care for one another.
“We believe this begins with providing caregivers with effective supports to sustain them,” Easom added. “We also believe strongly in the need to provide greater recognition for professional and family caregivers. This designation is important because today’s need for qualified and well-equipped family caregivers is growing.”
More than 65 million family caregivers in the U.S. provide the largest proportion of care for dependent elderly individuals as well as adults and children with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Research has found that family caregivers report frequent stress, high rates of clinical depression and more health problems in general than the non-caregiving population. The RCI works to combat this issue.
Beginning in the 1990s, the RCI developed the CARE-NET (Caregivers Network) program as a coalition of caregiver support organizations across a broad array of illnesses and disabilities. Each of the 12 community CARE-NETs are located in a Georgia Area Agency on Aging (AAA) district. The coalition involves leaders and advocates from community and state agencies, private corporations and churches together with family caregivers. The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving and Georgia CARE-NET Coalitions celebrate the contributions of caregivers, recognize their challenges and proactively work to bring all sectors of society together to develop practical solutions to the needs of caregivers.
The RCI’s 12 Georgia CARE-NET coalitions blanket the entire state. They include Northwest Georgia in Rome, Georgia Mountains in Cumming, Atlanta, Southern Crescent in Franklin, Northeast Georgia in Athens, West Central Georgia in Americus, Middle Georgia in Macon, Central Savannah River Area in Augusta, Heart of Georgia in Baxley, Southwest Georgia in Albany, Southeast Georgia in Waycross, and Coastal Georgia in Brunswick.
In particular, grant money from the Administration on Aging (AoA) is allowing the RCI to educate people on dementia health issues. In a partnership with the Georgia Department of Aging Services, the RCI is hosting educational webinars throughout the state to facilitate learning about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
This initiative only touches on part of what the Rosalynn Carter Institute seeks to accomplish. The RCI has established many other local, states, national, and international partnerships committed to building quality long-term, home and community-based services. With ample support, the RCI is making great strides in averting the caregiving crisis.
For more information on the Rosalynn Carter Institute or its programs, call (229) 928-1234 or go online www.RosalynnCarter.org.
Georgia Southwestern’s Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving was created in 1987 in honor of former First Lady and GSW alumna Rosalynn Carter. Through research, education and training, the RCI promotes the mental health and well being of individuals, families and professional caregivers; encourages effective caregiving practices; builds public awareness of caregiving needs; and advances public and social policies that enhance caring communities.