Contact: Bonnie Lawrence
(415) 434-3388, Ext. 312
blawrence (at) caregiver.org
A Message for Families and Caregivers
WASHINGTON, DC—November 17, 2005—The Administration on Aging, in con-junction with the National Center on Caregiving at Family Caregiver Alliance, has released a new Fact Sheet, "Be Wise…Immunize!” The publication encourages family caregivers to get immunized against flu, pneumonia, and tetanus.
Timed to coincide with the start of flu season and National Caregivers Month, and designed to reach a diverse audience of caregiving families, the Fact Sheets are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian and Vietnamese. They are being distributed nationally with an accompanying information kit to State Units on Aging and associated organizations to share with caregivers in their communities. They are also posted online at www.AoA.gov and at www.caregiver.org.
Caregivers—families and friends caring for loved ones with long-term, disabling illnesses—go to extraordinary lengths to ensure the best medical care for frail ill or elderly relatives. But too often, they neglect their own health. Providing long-term care to a loved one can be very rewarding, but it also causes stress, depression and a lowered resistance to physical illness.
Research has shown that:
Influenza and pneumonia are the fifth leading cause of death in older adults.
Despite public awareness of the importance of immunization, up to 60,000 older Americans die from vaccine-preventable diseases each year.
More than 90% of those who die from flu and pneumonia are people over 65 years old.
According to Josefina Carbonell, Assistant Secretary for Aging, “This Fact Sheet explains why caregivers need to take those extremely important—and easy—first steps to help keep themselves and their loved ones safe from preventable illnesses. The CDC hasrecommended immunizations for professional healthcare workers since 1981. It’s becoming a standard for health professionals, and it should be for family caregivers as well.”
“Caregivers are a vulnerable population at risk for stress-related and other illnesses. We encourage them to take good care of themselves,” agreed Kathleen Kelly, Executive Director of Family Caregiver Alliance and its National Center on Caregiving, “and that includes taking the essential step of getting immunized against preventable diseases. Caregivers need to carefully guard their own health—not only for their own benefit, but so they are able to continue to give the best care to their loved ones.”
NOTE: Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) operates programs at local, state and national levels to support and sustain the important work of families caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s, stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other disabling conditions. For more information about FCA and the National Center on Caregiving, and to learn about additional activities for Caregivers Month, visit www.caregiver.org.
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