To honor family caregivers and recognize National Family Caregivers Month, Concordia Visiting Nurses announced the launch of its caregiver support website to help adult daughters and sons provide care for their aging parents: www.elderpages.com/pittsburgh.
"Caring for an aging relative can be very stressful," said Dino Capestrani, director of marketing for Concordia Visiting Nurses. "You want to help, but you also have your own busy life and commitments. We created this website to provide insight and practical information that can make the family's job much easier."
According to a 2009 survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the American Association of Retired Persons, the average caregiver is a 50-year-old woman who works outside the home and spends 19 hours per week taking care of her mother. Family members are the backbone of the health care system. The American Association of Retired Persons estimates that family caregivers provide $450 billion in unpaid services each year.
But caring for an aging relative is not without its personal cost. Family caregivers suffer from a higher incidence of depression, isolation and financial hardships that result from the sacrifices they make to provide the care and support that is needed.
"As a society, we are deeply indebted to the family caregiver," said Capestrani. "Families need help to do what they do. They need information and they need support services. The irony is, support programs are available, but caregivers don't know where to turn to find out about them. That's where we decided we could make a difference."
Concordia Visiting Nurses created the Elder Pages Pittsburgh website as an "e-library." It has articles such as preventing falls, driving safely and avoiding hospitalization to help aging parents stay independent. There is a section with tips and tools that are useful for family caregivers (medication schedules, a private family blog, online support groups, etc). It also includes a directory of local and national services from those that assist with the medication costs, to insurance counseling, support groups, transportation services and in-home health care. The website even offers a free e-newsletter with monthly articles filled with information and resources to make family caregiving easier.
A study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project revealed that 39 percent of individuals on the Internet have used the Web to help a friend or family member who was dealing with a major illness sometime in the last 2 years.
Although Concordia Visiting Nurses specifically designed its educational website to be helpful to family caregivers, it also expects that the e-library will help local physician offices, senior centers, elder law attorneys, etc.
"It takes a village to provide good quality elder care," said Capestrani. "But the aging network is so fragmented. This website is our way of helping the greater Pittsburgh and surrounding counties to be come more networked in support of seniors and their family caregivers."
Concordia Visiting Nurses is part of Concordia Lutheran Ministries. Concordia is a CARF-CCAC accredited Aging Services Network, one of the 100 largest senior care providers in the country, and in the top 2 percent of the Pennsylvania Department of Health inspection results. It was also the recipient of the inaugural Pennsylvania Department of Aging Excellence in Quality Care Award.
To view the new family support website, go to www.elderpages.com/pittsburgh. For more information about the website, or if you have concerns about a family member, e-mail Concordia Visiting Nurses at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 1-877-352-6200 toll free for the Cabot office, or 1-866-869-8669 toll free for the Baden branch.