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New Initiative Aims To Help Family Caregivers In San Diego

File photo of seniors taking part in an exercise class at the College Avenue Older Adult Center in May 2009.
Kenny Goldberg
File photo of seniors taking part in an exercise class at the College Avenue Older Adult Center in May 2009.
New Initiative Aims To Help San Diego Family Caregivers
New Initiative Aims To Help San Diego Family Caregivers GUEST: Michele Parente, reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

>>> It just might be one of the fastest growing jobs in the country, the job of caregiving. An estimated 650,000 unpaid family caregivers live in San Diego County. That number will only grow as the baby boomer generation ages. If you don't know someone who is a caregiver right now, chances are good you will soon. It could be you. That is why an event this weekend is very timely. It is a caregiver community Expo. One element of an initiative launched by the San Diego Union Tribune to connect caregivers and there families with resources to keep going. Here to talk more about this is Michelle. >> Reporter: You for joining us. >> Thank you so much. >> Before we start talking about it. I have to ask about another story. Yet another suicide, just days after we heard about Kate Spade taking her life. This time a much loved chef and traveler, Anthony Bourdain. He was found dead in his hotel room. You are the food writer. Please talk about the impact that he has had on your work. >> Reporter: You know, I am from New York originally. When I was a reporter at New York Newsday. My offices are located on Park Avenue South. We were just a couple of blocks from Anthony Bourdain restaurant when he was just bursting onto the scene in New York. It made me feel so grown-up and chic to be in this Parisian bistro in Manhattan and at the time I couldn't have known how much that place was going to inform me as a food writer. But it did. It raised my standards because he had very high standards. He was a towering figure and, not just in New York, but everywhere he went. >> He also had an influence on local food. >> He did. Probably in Baja more than in San Diego proper. He loved the whole culinary scene in Baja, especially Sabina Bandera who is known in Ensenada, she has this street food cart and he made her a star. There is a huge poster right by her food cart that people take pictures in front of, the Taurus deal. Of Sabina with Anthony. He loved actual people who just fed their communities honest, authentic food. >> We will miss and. Anthony Bourdain, a life well lived. >>> >>> >>> Let talk a little bit about why you came in. You've been writing about aging and caregiving for the Tribune for a while. How did this caregiving project come about? >> It started a couple of years ago when I wrote a six part series on family caregivers. Because I had gone to the experience and I had learned so much about what I didn't know. Well I was reporting the series, I kept saying that I wished I had done this before. I wish I knew it when my parents were alive. The thing is, a lot of baby boomers are in the newsroom as well as young people and a lot of baby boomers and people kept asking me for my advice. The editor was very conscious of this and when he was trying to challenge the newsroom to come up with ideas for a five-year plan, innovations, what can we do to distinguish ourselves. This is one of the ideas that came up workup let's do something on caregivers. It is more of a community service for us because it is not new. We will report caregiving news but really what we are trying to do is to give caregivers the information they need because it is such a difficult job. >> One of the points you make is that families need to develop a caregiving team. How do you do that? >> I think, like with every team, there is always a leader. Somebody has to at least from the beginning take charge. This is one of the biggest things that I did think of after-the-fact. I wish I had approached family caregiving not as a family matter but as a work assignment. Where you need tasks to be identified. You need tasks to be assigned to people. You need to get the best people to do the right job. >> Is it true to say that there's a shortage of paid caregivers? >> Yes. Just because the older population is exploding. Diseases like Alzheimer's are on the increase. Alzheimer's in particular requires so much more care than say, Parkinson's disease. My MOM had dimension and my dad had Parkinson's. My mom required triple the level of care because dementia, there is always the possibility of wandering six out of 10 people do it. They will just walk away, they are not trying to run away but they sometimes don't know where they are. They require constant monitoring and feeding and the need for caregivers is just increasing exponentially. >> Talk a bit about what people can find from caregivers San Diego. >> Our website has a lot of user-friendly information from experts, all across the country and also here in San Diego, we are very fortunate that in San Diego there are a lot of organizations for profit businesses, government agencies, nonprofit businesses, all geared court -- towards helping caregivers. We have all of their contact information and what they do and what they will do for you. Many times for free or low-cost. >> This is on a website. Caregiver SD.com. Tomorrow, at liberty Station from nine-three, we are having a caregiver Expo where so many of the experts are going to be there. We're going to have a lot of these companies and agencies also there, representing the groups, handing out information and brochures, talking to people. If you need information and you need help, this is a one stop place to get it. >> If I could just add one thing, caregivers are incredibly stressed out. So we have decided to help them out a little bit and we are going to have a pamper pavilion for them where caregivers can come and get free spa services, express manicures, facials, neck rugs, etc. Because we think caregivers need to take care of themselves. >> Michelle, thank you so much for bringing us these resources. >> Thank you for having me, it is always a pleasure. >> That is Michelle from the San Diego Union Tribune.

There are nearly 650,000 unpaid family caregivers in San Diego County, according to The Southern Caregiver Resource Center.

Most of them are adults taking care of an aging parent and helping with everything from daily errands to coordinating health services and managing finances. The situation can become overwhelming.

Now there's a new place family caregivers can turn to for help. The San Diego Union-Tribune has launched CaregiverSD.com, a new website with information, resources and support for family caregivers.

An official kickoff event will be held Saturday at Liberty Station. The CaregiverSD Community Expo will feature speakers and various local providers.

Michele Parente, who's been writing about aging and the struggles caregivers face, discusses her personal experience as a family caregiver Friday on Midday Edition.