Although November is National Family Caregiver Month, Easterseals Delaware & Maryland’s Eastern Shore focuses on supporting families like the Smiths all year long. Gary Smith says he was constantly “stressed and worried” all the time as he struggled to care for his adult son, Wayne, and his wife, Lois – both of whom have disabilities. While he worked overnights as a manager at a local drug store, he worried because he knew they were home alone. As a caregiver, he did not know what to do until he found Easterseals services, which completely changed all their lives.
“Life without Easterseals would be terrible. If we didn’t have Easterseals I don’t know what we would do. We depend on their programs,” Gary says. “Easterseals is a blessing all the way around. They do great things for families. They are always concerned about the people they serve and their families.”
According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, there are more than 53 million unpaid family caregivers in the U.S. One of the greatest needs of these caregivers is information about services and programs in their community which may be helpful to them as a caregiver for children or adults with disabilities, chronic or terminal illness, or the elderly.
For Gary’s son, Wayne, the Easterseals adult day program in Georgetown where he spends three days a week, is the perfect way for him to spend time during the day, interacting with his peers, and engaging in the activities. Not only do his parents appreciate the break from caregiving but they also have watched Wayne grow as an individual thanks to his participation in the program.
Gary was able to leave his full-time job outside of the home and support his family as a paid full-time caregiver through Easterseals Personal Attendant Services (PAS) program. PAS allow people with disabilities and seniors to choose and hire their own caregiver who performs duties based on individual needs. This may include help with bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and other duties that help the individual remain independent. While the person with the disability is the employer, Easterseals staff helps to support the program participant in their role as an employer of the caregiver.
“I feel blessed and happy to be with them all the time and get paid to do it thanks to the Personal Attendant Services. Now I don’t worry as much anymore,” Gary says. “Easterseals has been the greatest thing for our family. It means growth for Wayne and for us. Awesome is the word I’d use to describe Easterseals!”
For more information, contact Easterseals Caregiver Resource Center at 302-221-2087 or [email protected]. The Caregiver Resource Center and Lifespan Respite programs are partially funded by the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities through the National Family Caregiver Support Program, Title III-E of the Older Americans Act.
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