Just in time for Mother’s Day – give the gift of care. If your mother is ill or has chronic health conditions and needs a caregiver to help with daily activities, here’s important information for you.

We all want our mothers to be safe and receive the best care. And if you share your mother’s caregiving duties with your father, be sure he has all the caregiving help he needs. Here’s why: New research suggests that when serious illness or dementia strikes older women, the divorce rate goes up. This illness-driven increase in divorce doesn’t occur when husbands fall ill, only wives.

According to a 20-year study of 2,700 older married couples, as the couples aged, chronic illness became an increasingly common problem for husbands. About half of couples saw their marriages end in divorce when a health crisis arose. When the wife became ill the divorce rate exceed that of the general population of older couples.

Researchers said the reasons for this “remain unclear,” pointing to historical gender roles that may mean older men are less prepared to assume the caregiving role, while women are more accepting of and knowledgeable about caregiving.

The actual rate of elder abuse is much higher than reported. Even when older people recognize they are suffering physical, mental, sexual or financial abuse or neglect at the hands of family or close friends, less than 1 percent report it. About two-thirds of elder abuse victims are women. Additionally, Latino, African Americans, low-income and socially-isolated seniors are much more likely to suffer abuse.

Elder abuse is expensive. It triples the risk of premature death and causes unnecessary illness, injury and suffering. Elder abuse victims are four times more likely to enter a nursing home and three times more likely to be hospitalized.

Numerous resources exist in Arkansas to help caregivers of all ages, skills and genders. Help can include in-home personal care, hospice programs, meals-on-wheels, senior companions, respite centers, legal assistance, emergency response buttons, housing options and much more.

The following organizations can help you find caregiving resources in your area and most are free. Share this information with the older men in your family who have, or may assume, caregiving duties. Ask them how YOU can help and then follow through with providing the help they need. It could be the most important gift you ever give your mother.

ELDERCARE LOCATOR is a free public service of the federal Administration on Aging that locates caregiving resources for you. It is especially helpful if you live a long distance from the patient. Have the patient’s city and/or Zip Code available when you call toll free 800-677-1116. At their website you can find resources by city or by service.

AREA AGENCIES ON AGING. These eight non-profit organizations cover the whole state. They are the most comprehensive resource for any issue related to older Arkansans. Even if they don’t provide the service your senior needs, they can refer you to local providers of service. Coverage areas, services available, contact information and toll-free phone numbers are here.

DIVISION OF AGING & ADULT SERVICES, Ark. Dept. of Human Services, has several websites that can help locate resources:

  • Adult Protective Services – Call toll free 1-800-482-8049 to report any suspected abuse or neglect. Calls can be made without identifying yourself. Abuse includes mental, physical, sexual or financial exploitation or abuse and self-neglect. It includes people living at home, in a nursing home or other care facility. A case manager will investigate and help alleviate the situation.
  • org is the best source to find personal or at-home care services, including some programs that are free for low-income Arkansans.
  • ARChoices is a statewide listing of resources and includes a section where you can determine if the patient is eligible for each service (click on Div. of Aging and Adult Services at the bottom)
  • Choices in Living Resource Center – Call 1-866-801-3435 to get information about long-term services and supports in Arkansas. Trained counselors can help you sort through the many options and help you make informed decisions.
  • Long Term Care Complaints – 1-800-582-4887 or email OLTC@arkansas.gov The state will investigate complaints against nursing homes and other care facilities as well as allegations of abuse or neglect of residents, theft of residents’ property, and poor quality of resident care. Investigations are confidential, and you do not have to give your name when you file a complaint.

ALZHEIMER’S ARKANSAS PROGRAMS & SERVICES, provides a variety of services for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease patients and families; 501-224-0021 or visit alzark.org

AKKANSAS CHAPTER – ALZHEIMER’S ASSOCIATION, the national organization, can be reached at alz.org or call 24/7 toll free at 800-272-3900.

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