HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – November is National Family Caregivers Month, and one nonprofit is working to shine a light on the resources available to help caregivers.
There are an estimated 1,000,000 unpaid family caregivers in Alabama. Alabama Lifespan Respite’s (ALR) mission is to help them all access resources for “respite,” or a short break from caregiving.
The organization’s sustainability director Tracy Cieniewicz explained the definition of a family caregiver.
“Anyone is an unpaid family caregiver if you are caring for a loved one who has a chronic illness or disability [and] requires full-time care,” she explained. “That might be a parent with Alzheimer’s, a spouse who’s had a stroke, a child who has Down’s Syndrome, anyone who requires full-time care because of that disability or chronic illness.”
Cieniewicz said many caregivers work around the clock.
“It’s like going seven days a week without a lunch break,” Cieniewicz said. “So if you are that unpaid family caregiver, you need resources. You need a break. You need education to help you along that journey. And that’s what we’re here for.”
Caregivers also face many challenges.
“Isolation, depression, a lot of financial stress associated with caregiving costs, and we have a lot of resources available to help them with all of that.”
Cieniewicz said they have financial resources to help caregivers find a care provider to stay with the loved one while they go to the doctor, go to church or even get their hair done.
There are day programs available and even special needs camps and programs, like therapeutic horseback riding, which can offer those respite breaks.
“We also have caregiver mental health therapy available to our caregivers for free and a lot of education and resource referrals.”
For more information on accessing these resources, click here.