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A new manual aimed at helping the millions of caregivers who need assistance and information has been developed as part of a joint project between a pharmaceutical company and a host of nonprofit groups.
The manual, titled Caring to Help Others:
A Training Manual for Preparing Volunteers to Assist Caregivers of Older Adults, consists of more than 500 pages of information organized and written in a user-friendly style. Topics include the aging process; age-related health conditions and challenges; the need for sensitivity, understanding, and respect for older adults; how to work effectively with a team of family caregivers and professional health care providers; legal and safety issues; and dealing with relationships and the loss of loved ones. It contains several useful tools for trainers, including handouts, exercises, and guidelines for recruiting volunteers and forms for record keeping.
The manual is available free of charge to qualified organizations with training programs for volunteer support caregivers or plans to begin one. The comprehensive training manual was produced for organizations that train volunteer caregivers. It was created by nine nonprofit organizations with expertise in aging, health care, and caregiving. The manual’s production was sponsored by Eisai Inc., a research-based pharmaceutical company in Teaneck, NJ.
"I salute Eisai and the organizations that created this manual for helping to assure high-quality training for volunteer caregivers," said Kenneth Hicks, chairman of the board for Interfaith Caregivers Alliance (IN CITY, STATE). "Caregivers are truly special people. It is an exhausting job, and volunteers can provide much-needed respite to primary caregivers, as well as care for older adults who have no family or friends to act as primary caregivers or who simply cannot afford the cost of professional care."
Hicks added that a comprehensive training resource was needed as a result of the growing number of caregivers in America. Between 1988 and 1996, the number of U.S. households with caregivers tripled to about 22 million. In 1997 alone, it was estimated that unpaid caregivers provided the equivalent of $196 billion in care.
Caring to Help Others was developed by an advisory council of representatives from top caregiving advocacy groups, including: the American Association of Retired Persons, the Interfaith Caregivers Alliance, the National Alliance for Caregiving, the Hospice Association of America, the National Association for Home Care, the National Council on Aging, the National Family Caregivers Association, the Towson University department of gerontology, and the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater New Jersey Chapter.
The manual is available free of charge to qualified organizations for training volunteer caregivers. Organizations that meet the established qualification criteria may request free copies of the training manual by writing on their letterhead to: Caring To Help Others, P.O. Box 5376, New York, NY 10185-5376. The manual also will be available on a Web site later this year.