There’s a caregiver crisis out there that almost no one is talking about.
According to the California Master Plan for Aging, recently released by the California Dept. of Aging, nearly five million Californians are unpaid family caregivers, helping their parents, spouses, and friends who need assistance with everyday tasks to live well in their homes and communities. Of these, almost 1.7 million are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s Disease or another form of dementia.
Those caregiver numbers will only increase alongside the growing number of aging Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. By 2030, 10.8 million Californians will be an older adult (60+), making up one-quarter of the state’s population – and many of those individuals will need caregiving help.
Yet, more often than not, caregivers are thrust into their situation usually with little support or training, often making it a frustrating and lonely experience. This is especially true for caregivers of older adults with dementia, as dementia can be very difficult to understand and navigate without professional training, something that the majority of caregivers don’t have.
San Francisco’s Institute on Aging is hitting this lack of support head-on with Companioa — the non-profit’s new, first-of-its-kind program designed to personally guide family caregivers through the unpredictable complexities of caring for a person with dementia, with the goal of making it a less overwhelming experience. Like the name implies, Companioa is designed to be a caregiver’s companion, offering the kind of support a caring and devoted friend would provide.
At the heart of Companioa is its professionally trained care coaches, who provide caregivers and their families with personalized guidance. Each care coach develops a support plan for each family based on their individual situation, meets with families twice a month, and is available 5 days a week, 12 hours a day, to answer questions, give advice and lend a caring, listening ear. Companioa also offers families access to its Care Circles – support groups that enable families to share their struggles and collectively brainstorm ideas.
“We consider dementia the defining health crisis of this era,” said Tom Briody, President and CEO of Institute on Aging. “Until now, there has been no end-to-end support program in the Bay Area to help those with dementia and their caregivers navigate this very challenging disease. As an innovative organization, it’s Institute on Aging’s responsibility to provide that support.”
Want to learn more about Companioa? Call our Connect Line at 415.750.4111 to chat with one of our specialists today or connect through our website.