Resources to Support Family Caregivers

Resources to Support Family Caregivers

November is National Family Caregiver Month, a month dedicated to providing support and raising awareness for the 66 million Americans who are providing care for ill, disabled or aging relatives.

If you are caring for a senior loved one in Michigan, you know that this job can be both rewarding and demanding. But you may not be aware that helping an older adult with daily-living tasks could be taking a serious toll on your health and relationships.

Caregiving can be harmful to your health

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, family caregivers report more health issues and seem to suffer from a lowered immunity. About 10 % report that assisting a loved one with hygiene, meals, medications, errands and housecleaning has caused their own health to decline. A stunning 40-70% of caregivers report symptoms of depression.

Most family caregivers devote about 20 hours a week to their loved ones in need.  Research shows that adults who spend more than a few hours a week caring for others are more likely to suffer from physical illness and mental strain. They are also less likely to visit a doctor, to exercise and to eat a balanced diet.

But there is good news. Studies confirm that that education, access to resources and community support can relieve a lot of the stress and strain of caring for an aging parent, whether they are in the home or in an assisted-living community.  

Resources for healthy caregiving

These websites can help you locate the information, resources and services that will support you as a caregiver.

  • AARP Home and Family Caregiving: An educational resource where caregivers can learn strategies for juggling work and caregiving, dealing with stress and living healthier lives. This is also home to a busy online community where you can talk with other caregivers and ask experts for advice.
  • The Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Center: If you are providing Alzheimer’s or dementia care, this is a great resource for support. You can talk to others in the caregiver discussion boards and access materials that may ease your caregiving duties.  This website also offers a Community Resource Finder that can help you locate events, services and support options in the Great Lakes State.  
  • Michigan Aging and Adult Services: These government agency websites offer links to educational resources, support groups and workshops that can make caregiving less stressful. You can also find information about adult-day care and enrichment programs, assistance with in-home care and services like home-delivered meals.
  • The National Caregiver’s Library: A storehouse of information covering every aspect of caregiving. This helpful resource includes a section dedicated to educating employers of caregivers.
  • Video Caregiving: An online library of informative mini-documentaries where people share their stories and offer informative tips to support caregivers.

Please help us spread the word about National Family Caregiving Month by sharing this article with your personal network of family and friends!


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Meditation for Michigan Caregivers

Meditation for Michigan Caregivers

If you’ve been noticing that meditation seems to have gone mainstream over the past few years, you are right. Corporate CEOs, professional athletes, physicians, and television personalities are all confessing to using meditation to help improve their performance by reducing stress. It is being touted as the best stress buster out there. For Michigan caregivers, there is ample reason to learn more about meditation. In fact, a study from UCLA released earlier this year showed meditation is better for helping calm caregivers than even a relaxation CD. It can also help to keep the blues –another common struggle for caregivers – away.

Equally important is what meditation did to help increase telomerase activity and cellular aging. It sounds a bit technical but the short version is that telomerase is an enzyme commonly associated with stress-related health risks and diseases. The more telomerase activity is present, the longer the immune cells last. The study showed that the group practicing meditation had a 43% improvement in telomerase activity, while a relaxation group that had just 3.7%.

The Caregiver Meditation Study at UCLA

The study consisted of:

  • 49 family caregivers between the ages 45 and 91
  • 36 were adult children and 13 were spouses
  • The group was divided in two
  • The meditation group learned a 12-minute Kirtan Kriya yoga practice
  • The relaxation group listened to instrumental music on a CD in a quiet place
  • Each group practiced either meditation or relaxation listening at the same time every day for eight weeks

The results of the project showed 65% of the meditation group had a 50% improvement on a depression scale versus just 31% for the relaxation CD group. 52% of the meditation group also had a 50% improvement in mental health and cognitive function compared with to 19% for the relaxation CD group.

Places for Caregivers to Learn Meditation Online

One of the challenges for busy caregivers is not having enough hours in the day to attend a meditation class. Fortunately, there are many sites where caregivers to learn how to meditate online at a time that is best for them. A few of those sites include:

The bottom line is that caregiving creates stress. Finding ways to manage it is important to keeping caregivers healthy. Meditation is proving to be one way to accomplish that.


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