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Caregivers deserve and need a break, too

The widely circulated story of the plight of the dairy farmer in Bagley, Minn., trying to find effective ways to care for his wife with Alzheimer's disease likely struck a chord with hundreds of others who are caring for vulnerable loved ones around the clock.

National reports underscore the fact that a majority of frail elderly who need caregivers get the care they need from friends and family. The truth is, providing that care for a loved one with a chronic illness is a gargantuan responsibility -- and can be physically and emotionally exhausting. Often, families need more support to preserve their critical role as caregivers, but may not know where to turn for help.

The good news is that there is help available. Since 1992, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota has been offering caregivers a break by trained and compassionate volunteers. Educational and support groups also provide an opportunity for caregivers to come together to talk about the same emotions, issues and challenges.

It's National Caregiver Awareness Month. If you are caring for a loved one and need a break or support from others, we can help. -- Tara Giese, Caregiver Support and Respite Program, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota