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Friday, October 23, 2009

Expert to Address Growing Crisis in Caregiving


The demand for at-home caregiving will increase dramatically in the United States in the years ahead, said Richard Schulz, Ph.D., an internationally known expert on caregiving from the University of Pittsburgh.
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"Caregiving is a major public health issue in the U.S.," said Dr. Schulz.

"Family caregivers are a critical component of the health care system in the
U.S., yet their role and importance to society as a whole has only recently
been appreciated."

November is National Family Caregivers Month, and UPMC Health Plan will mark
the event on Nov. 4 by serving as host for a special lecture by Dr. Schulz,
who is the director of the University Center for Social and Urban Research at
Pitt and associate director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute on
Aging.

Dr. Schulz, a professor of psychiatry, has focused most of his
research on the effects of disabling late-life illnesses on patients and their
families.

With the aging of the baby boomer generation, the demand for care will
increase dramatically. At the same time, the availability of family caregivers
will decrease because baby boomers had fewer children than their parents did.
"The costs of formal care and support are already too high and are
unsustainable," said Dr. Schulz. "There is also a growing shortfall of health
care professionals with relevant experience. Important research and policy
issues need to be addressed before we move forward."
National Family Caregivers Month, an annual event created by the National
Family Caregivers Association, is designed to recognize, thank, support,
educate, and empower family caregivers.

For the past two years, UPMC Health Plan has offered a class for members,
titled "Powerful Tools for Caregivers." The class, which is conducted by
trained employee volunteers, is designed to support the efforts of persons who
are responsible for caring for a family member or other loved one. The
six-week training session teaches caregivers how to care for their own needs
while also serving as caregivers.

Much of Dr. Schulz's recent work has focused on issues of family caregiving.
He is currently the principal investigator in a 10-year study on the health
effects of caregiving on married couples. In recognition of his contributions
to research on aging, he was the recipient of the Kleemeier Award in 2000 from
the Gerontological Society of America.
"Our research has shown that two-thirds of married couples who are caregivers
deal with a high degree of depression and stress," said Dr. Schulz. "Family
caregiving is a burdensome role with potentially high costs to the caregiver."

Dr. Schulz's lecture is scheduled for Nov. 4 at 10 a.m. in the Herberman
Conference Center at UPMC Shadyside. The lecture is free and open to the
public.
"We are honored to have someone of Dr. Schulz's stature to talk about the
issue of caregiving," said Diane P. Holder, President and CEO of UPMC Health
Plan. "Caregiving is an important issue in today's society and it will only
become even more important in the years ahead."


SOURCE Reuters Press Release and UPMC Health Plan

Gina Pferdehirt, Director, Public Relations & Community Relations of UPMC
Health Plan, +1-412-454-4953, pferdehirtgm@upmc.edu

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