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Hello DHS,

The fact that there are so many "awareness" months dedicated to areas of work benefitting those we serve is a testament the importance of what we do! In addition to being National Adoption Month, November is also designated as National Family Caregivers Month, recognizing the incredible contribution family members make in support of the dignity and well-being of their loved ones. In Oregon, there are about 360,000 individuals recognized as family caregivers. Across the nation, there are more than 50 million. This includes people who care for a parent, grandparent, sibling, child, friend or even those grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.

Family caregiving is most often done while balancing other commitments -- to families, jobs and communities -- in order to provide essential care to a family member. Many family caregivers assist seniors and people with disabilities and improve their quality of life, often enabling individuals stay in their homes and communities longer than they would otherwise be able to do.

While there is certainly more to be done, throughout November there were several excellent programs focusing on support and resources for family caregivers -- from a conference in Washington County, to forums in Multnomah and Clackamas Counties, to resource fairs in Newport and Albany. Our growing Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) provides important information and options counseling services for Oregonians who are family caregivers and to those who are considering whether they can make the commitment to become caregivers (www.adrcoforegon.org).

My 89-year old grandfather recently moved in with my mom. Supporting her through this experience, I can personally attest to the love and patience it takes to provide care -- day and night -- to someone with increasingly complex needs. When you get the opportunity, I know you'll join me in recognizing the thousands of Oregon family caregivers for their care and compassion.

~Erinn
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