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WI Family Caregivers Have Helpline Support into 2022

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021   

MADISON, Wis. - November is National Family Caregivers Month, and Wisconsin residents are being reminded about an extra resource they can lean on as caregiving responsibilities pile up.

For the past year, groups such as AARP Wisconsin and United Way have teamed up to offer extra voices for caregivers to connect with, through the 211 Wisconsin helpline. As more people are thrust into caregiving roles, said Rachel Brightman, United Way's 211 information and referral specialist, it can be hard for them to find the right resources to help with their situation.

"They barely have an hour to themselves a day," she said, "so finding time to look for resources can feel like such an extra task."

Nearly 600,000 Wisconsinites serve as unpaid family caregivers. When someone calls the helpline, they can be assigned a referral specialist who can offer support for up to 10 weeks. Requests are accepted not only from the caregivers themselves, but those who know someone else in need of guidance. The extra service has been extended into next July.

Caregivers not only have to support their loved one, but also often manage their own regular jobs and other routine tasks, such as paying bills. Sometimes, Brightman said, the helpline is there to act more like a close friend, offering undivided attention.

"We listen," she said. "If there's an issue going on, if someone just wants to vent, we want to be that listening ear."

The hotline coincides with repeated calls for policymakers to offer more financial support for unpaid family caregivers. AARP has said they spend an average of $7,000 a year on out-of-pocket expenses.

In addition to dialing the number, more details can be found at 211.org. Those who sign up are asked to fill out a registration form.

Helpline info: https://www.unitedwaywi.org/page/caregiversupport.

WI caregiver background data and policy demands: https://states.aarp.org/wisconsin/wisconsion-family-caregiving-legislation-federal-tax-credit.

Disclosure: AARP Wisconsin contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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