Com­mis­sion­ers honor ‘Na­tional Fam­ily Care­givers Month’

The Kent Island Bay Times - - School - By KRIS­TIAN JAIME [email protected]­es­pub.com

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.

PHO­TOS BY KRIS­TIAN JAIME

ABOVE: County Com­mis­sioner Jack Wil­son looks over the procla­ma­tion hon­or­ing fam­ily care­givers.

KRIS­TIAN JAIME

LEFT: Cather­ine Riggs Wil­lis, LGSW, Queen Anne’s County Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Ser­vices Di­rec­tor dis­cusses the im­por­tant role of the fam­ily care­givers.

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