According to a new report from AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC), more than 1 in 5 adults — a total of 53 million adult Americans — are now unpaid family caregivers.
Americans from all walks of life and backgrounds are caring for older parents, spouses, and loved ones, providing over $470 billion in unpaid care each year and those numbers are increasing as the US population continues to age and live longer with complex and chronic conditions. Caregivers are oftentimes stressed and looking for help in identifying available resources where they live.
Which is why United Way Worldwide (UWW), 211, and AARP joined forces alongside the local 211 and United Way network to create a Caregiver Outreach Program. 211 is a free and confidential service that helps people across North America find the local resources they need. The Caregiver Outreach Program merges AARP caregiving team’s expertise on the needs of caregivers with the United Way and 211 network of local resources, trained staff, and the infrastructure to deliver.
The program has provided more than a dozen local teams with resources to identify and provide ongoing support to caregivers and expand community partnerships to grow the network of referrals and services their clients need. Through their efforts of enhanced navigation support more than 700 caregivers have been connected to over 2,900 resources.
Feedback from participating teams has reinforced that caregivers oftentimes do not see themselves in the “role” of caregiver but instead are “just helping a family member or friend”. The Caregiver Outreach Program pushes past some of the most common barriers to accessing resources for the caregiving community. 211 navigators are trained and prepared to ask various questions to provide resources for the initial call and to identify if the client is caregiving. Once a caregiver has been identified, navigators can then provide appropriate and specialized resources specific to the caregiving community and the individual’s needs.
“It all started with you, you were the first positive with all of my calls to the various agencies. You were the one that...you are my guardian angel, you really are. It all turned around when we spoke, I knew it, I just got those vibes that you were the one, the right person to help us along.”
-Caregiver Broward, FL
If you or someone you know is caregiving, please check out these Family Caregiving Guides for an extensive list of tools available. You can call 211 or visit 211.org to connect with your local 211 team and learn more about what services are available in your area.
If your 211 is interested in expanding your navigation services to include populations like family caregivers, please contact Natasha Stewart at firstname.lastname@example.org.