Commissioners honor ‘National Family Caregivers Month’
CENTREVILLE — Family caregivers were honored at the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners meeting with a proclamation Tuesday, Nov. 13 just in time for National Family Caregivers Month in November.
On hand to receive recognition was Catherine Riggs Willis, LGSW, Queen Anne’s County Department of Community Services director, who underscored the increasing number of individuals nationwide now undertaking that role for a loved one.
“This has been recognized since the 1990s, and we have 65 million Americans doing family caregiving,” said Willis. “That saves a cost of over $375 billion per year in what caregiver services would typically cost outside of the home. It’s very important to recognize because many in the workforce are part of the generation where they have children and aging parents in the (same) home.”
During her presentation, Willis noted the contribution by commissioners to the numerous families in the county also acting as family caregivers.
She cited that the county staff could use family medical leave not only for the birth of a child, but also for the caregiving of their parents. Willis used such time off for the care of her father 18 months prior. She recalled the reality for many families like hers who dealt with nursing homes and complicated medical diagnoses all while trying to do their full-time job.
“Through the Department of Community Services Area Agency on Aging, we have caregiver support programs and educate people on how to navigate the system of (services). We also reach out employees too, so they can come to my agency for help and guidance,” continued Willis.
County Commissioner Steve Wilson echoed her sentiments that such support is necessary in times where family members become caregivers. According to Wilson, that has been a priority to support such efforts.
“I think the county does its best to be humane and if there’s other ways we can extend that, don’t hesitate to come to us again,” said Wilson.
County Commissioner Jack Wilson promptly presented Proclamation 18-60 in honor of National Family Caregivers Month with the special theme of Super Charger Caregiving.
“Whereas many family caregivers find themselves providing care for their loved ones 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and whereas caregiving can be a rewarding experience, it is not without its consequences such as stress, poor health, and caregiver burnout,” the proclamation read.
It also noted that six out of 10 family caregivers juggle the responsibility of tending to children as well as their loved one. That comes with the added obligation of full or part-time employment and managing a variety of medications and intricate medical needs.
“Whether it be a senior with Alzheimer’s Disease or a child with special needs, the attention can be nonstop. Whereas caregiving affects the whole family, family time and meal time are extremely important in the caregiving setting,” concluded Jack Wilson as he formally presented the proclamation.
ABOVE: County Commissioner Jack Wilson looks over the proclamation honoring family caregivers.
LEFT: Catherine Riggs Willis, LGSW, Queen Anne’s County Department of Community Services Director discusses the important role of the family caregivers.