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New York Salutes Unpaid Caregivers During November:

Governor Cuomo Proclaims November 2011 “Caregiver Recognition Month”

November 17, 2011 - Albany, NY.

Greg Olsen, Acting Director of the New York State Office for the Aging, welcomed the nearly 120 participants at the first-ever New York State Caregiving and Respite Coalition’s conference today and praised them for their tireless efforts in providing care to those in need.

Greg Olsen, NYSOFA Acting Director, Presents Governor Cuomo's Proclamation to NYSCRC Director Maureen MurphyGreg Olsen, NYSOFA Acting Director, Presents Governor Cuomo's Proclamation
to NYSCRC Director Maureen Murphy

Governor Cuomo issued a proclamation calling on all New Yorkers to recognize the meaningful contributions of informal caregivers, stating that their commitment, generosity and dedication make a profound difference in the lives of others and reflects the best of the Empire State.

There are more than 3 million unpaid informal caregivers in New York State who provide direct care to persons of all ages. NYSOFA estimates that without the support of unpaid caregivers, over 50% of older residents would likely be placed in institutional settings or nursing homes, sometimes miles away from their homes and family members. At an average cost of $9,000 per month, most individuals placed in nursing homes transfer to the government financed Medicaid program. Several studies have indicated that the presence of a family caregiver or other unpaid caregiver delays one’s need for nursing home placement.

The financial effect of the care provided by caregivers is enormous. According to a new report by AARP's Public Policy Institute, the care provided by these caregivers, if paid for at market rate, would cost NY $3.2 billion annually. A MetLife study titled Working Caregivers and Employer Health Care Costs, estimates the cost to employers of $17.1 to $33.6 billion annually attributed to caregiving. These costs are due primarily to absenteeism, shift from full-time to part-time work, replacing employees, and workday interruptions.

Mr. Olsen noted that as many New Yorkers across the state make their plans for family gatherings to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday that they also take time to reflect on and to thank the thousands of unpaid caregivers across the state who provide care to family members, friends, neighbors and other loved ones, who might otherwise not be able to remain in their homes and communities of choice, if not for the care and assistance provided by these caregivers.

A caregiver is anyone -- a relative, life partner, friend or neighbor who is helping someone they care about - maybe it is an older person who has chronic health conditions or an adult with a disability -- with everyday tasks of living.

The conference was made possible by a federal Lifespan Respite Program grant, through the U.S. Administration on Aging in 2010, and support from the Albany Guardian Society. NYSOFA has a goal to expand and strengthen the New York State Caregiving and Respite Coalition (NYSCRC), to build a caregiver support services network and develop a statewide coordinated system, increase access to respite services for families across age/disability spectrums, including access to emergency respite services.

The conference included workshops aimed at assisting caregivers to maintain the care provided to loved ones. It also recognized outstanding caregivers and innovative programs from across the state with the HERO award. A HERO is an individual, a program, or an organization which exhibits certain qualities including Helpfulness, Excellence, Reliability and Originality.

The awardees included Richard “Dick” W. Bondi of Dansville, Livingston County, who was named the National Family Caregiver of the Year; Deb Cummins, a Respite Care Provider from Allegany County; Linda James, Director of the Family Resource Centers of Rochester - for the Skip Generations Program; and Carrin Swanson, Program Manager at Dayhaven Adult Day Program in Schenectady.

Caregivers often do not know about services and resources available to them. NYSOFA has developed resources to help caregivers in their caregiving role and to connect care receivers to community-based services. For information about these programs and services, visit: http://www.aging.ny.gov/ResourceGuide/index.cfm

The New York State Office for the Aging, in partnership with 59 county offices for the aging and the many service providers, help to guide elders, their families and caregivers to opportunities that enhance their lives.