GUEST COLUMN: Iowa caregivers provide life-changing support

GUEST COLUMN: Iowa caregivers provide life-changing support

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Cody Lewton

Lewton

November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to celebrate the Iowans who are providing compassionate support to a loved one with significant health needs.

About 15 percent of U.S. adults are in a caregiving role for another adult. At Lutheran Services in Iowa, I see the life-changing difference these caregivers make for the individuals they support.

One of LSI’s programs, Host Homes, offers one-on-one support for Iowans with disabilities. The caregivers in this program – or “mentors” – open their hearts and homes to an adult with a disability and provide 24-hour, personalized care. They get groceries together, watch movies, manage finances and chores, and work on any goals the individual wants to achieve. Since the program launched in 2017, we have seen tangible examples of the ways these mentors make an impact in the lives of the people they serve.

Before Host Homes, one individual experienced severe mental health episodes and was in and out of hospitalized psychiatric care several times each year. But after moving in with her mentor and receiving the individualized care she needed, she has experienced great improvements in her health and been able to go more than a year without any hospitalization.

LSI also supports caregivers through statewide respite care, an opportunity for caregivers to take a much-needed break from caring for their loved one. In order for them to provide the best support for their loved ones, they must also have time to take care of themselves. Our First Circle Friends program in Des Moines and Clinton also provides respite care specifically designed for individuals experiencing memory loss and is staffed by specially trained volunteers.

Caregiving is no easy task, and it can come with long, difficult days. This month, please join me in lifting up and thanking the Iowans in our community who are dedicating their lives to provide compassionate support for those who need it.

Cody Lewton is the Director of LSI’s Services for People with Disabilities. He can be reached at Cody.Lewton@LSIowa.org.

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