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Every November, National Family Caregivers Month celebrates family caregivers, including those who care for people with developmental disabilities (DD). Led by the Caregiver Action Network, the 2023 theme of the national observance is #CaregiversConnect, which highlights the importance of making connections for family caregivers to share their experiences, get information, and find support.
This year, we’re recognizing National Family Caregivers Month by sharing resources to support family caregivers and calling attention to barriers they face. We’re also highlighting TCDD-funded initiatives that address the needs of family caregivers. We invite you to use and share this information to help us improve the lives of family caregivers and their loved ones across Texas.
TCDD Support for Family Caregivers
For family members, the caregiving relationship can be rewarding. But it often involves physical, financial, and emotional challenges – many of which deepened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Without family caregivers, many people with DD wouldn’t have support to live in their communities and make decisions about their lives.
TCDD funds projects to develop new and innovative ways to support families and caregivers:
- The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) is coordinating a project that provides classes and resources to meet the health, nutrition, and wellness needs of older adults with DD and their caregivers. Learn more about this project on the AACOG website.
- AACOG is also coordinating a separate project to create resources for people with DD to fully participate in the care of their parents and family caregivers who are aging.
- The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston is developing a statewide network of virtual health centers and Medicaid health homes that will be supported by telehealth. The network addresses barriers to health care for older adults with DD and their caregivers, including limited access to doctors who can diagnose and manage the geriatric health care needs of older adults with DD.
- Family to Family Network recently completed project that provided community-based education and outreach to people with DD and family members in the Houston area, supporting them in gaining knowledge and tools to plan for future financial and support needs. Through the project, more people with DD were in better positions to continue living in their homes and communities and have control over their lives as they and their family caregivers age.
- TCDD supported a project coordinated by The University of Texas at Austin to provide siblings of people with DD with information and resources across the state.
Siblings of people with DD often take on caregiver roles. The peer nature of the sibling relationship makes siblings uniquely positioned to provide caregiving. They can support their siblings with disabilities in areas such as employment, transportation, housing, voting, and more. But siblings can also face challenges as they grow older and often juggle caregiving for their siblings with disabilities, their own children, and their aging parents. Earlier this year, TCDD staff members Lauren Gerken, Sabrina Gonzalez Saucedo, and Brianna TenBrink developed a presentation on fostering healthy relationships between siblings in families of people with DD. View slides from the presentation.
Family Caregiver Resources
There are many excellent resources to support family caregivers. The information and initiatives in the following non-comprehensive list are good places to get started.
Strengthen the Care You Give campaign
Strengthen the Care You Give is a statewide awareness campaign to help Texas caregivers learn about and access reliable support. Visit TexasCaregivers.org to learn more and find resources on caregiver self-care, education, training, collaboration, and more.
Caregiver Webinar Series
The Aging Services Coordination office at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) closes out its caregiver webinar series at noon on Nov. 29 with a webinar titled “Overview of Supports for Caregivers and Care Recipients.” Presenters include Yvette M. Lugo from the Rio Grande Area Agency on Aging and Melanie Wright from the HHSC Office of Aging and Disability Resource Center. Register for the webinar.
Aging and Disability Resource Centers
Aging and Disability Resource Centers are located across Texas and provide support and information for caregivers and care recipients, including contact information for respite providers, education, and training. Centers also partner with community organizations that help with a range of support areas, including personal care, transportation, housing assistance, and more. To find a center in your area, use the search tool on the HHSC website.
Aging Texas Well Strategic Plan
HHSC recently updated its Aging Texas Well Strategic Plan (PDF, 39 pages, 576 KB), which provides a comprehensive outlook on issues impacting older Texans and promotes strategies to address those issues at the state, community, and individual levels. The updated plan identifies top priority areas affecting older Texans and highlights key areas for future efforts, including increased support for family caregivers.
ACL Support for Caregivers
The U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL) supports programs and research to improve the lives of people who care for family members with disabilities as well as older adults. Visit the ACL website to find resources and information on topics ranging from caregiver support programs to respite care.
National Council on Aging
The National Council on Aging has a National Family Caregivers Month webpage that includes information and videos on family caregiver support. The page also offers sample messaging and images for you to help spread awareness online and on social media.
Caregiver Action Network
The Caregiver Action Network has resources and information, including a family caregiver toolbox that covers the basics of caregiving, financial and legal tools, local and national organizations that can provide support, and advice for both new and long-time family caregivers. You can also visit the network’s website to check out its 10 tips for family caregivers.
TCDD provides ongoing support for projects and activities to improve the lives and family caregivers and people with DD as they age. To stay up to date on TCDD initiatives and opportunities, subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.