Respite needs expected to grow with aging population

Nebraska Medicine public relations | June 27, 2017

Image with caption: Kim Falk

Kim Falk

Currently, there are 43 million adults in the United States who serve as a caregiver of an elderly parent or a family member with a disability or chronic condition. In 2013, nearly 200,000 people in Nebraska identified themselves as a caregiver.

"Caring for a loved one with constant needs can cause a great amount of stress in someone's life," said Kim Falk, UNMC respite employer engagement coordinator.

Falk's mission is to raise awareness among Nebraska Medicine and UNMC colleagues of the many resources available to caregivers. Through respite services, family caregivers can receive a temporary break from the ongoing demands of caring for their loved one.

Her work has been part of a pilot program with the Munroe-Meyer Institute (MMI) and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to explore the impact respite services can have on the productivity of a company's workforce. Because UNMC and Nebraska Medicine are a large employer, and MMI's established relationship with DHHS, they were chosen to be part of the three-year pilot program.

Now that the pilot is coming to a close, MMI has learned that it received a private grant to allow for continued respite resources for Nebraska Medicine and UNMC for an additional year.

"Employers are focused on improving the well-being of their workforce," Falk said. "An important part of that is caring for an employee's mental wellness, too."

The goal of the pilot program was to help employers better support their workforce by raising awareness of resources that already exist for their employees who are caregivers.

"If you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed with the responsibility of caring for another person, it can affect your performance at work," Falk said. "Offering respite resources benefits both the employer and the employee."

As the baby boomer generation continues to age, more people than ever will become caregivers, increasing the need for education and awareness of respite services.

Falk plans to take her data and share it with six respite resource coordinators throughout Nebraska, who will work with employers in their communities to raise awareness. She will continue her work at the med center as well as UNO.

Take a moment to learn more about respite services. You're also encouraged to take a brief survey of the importance of respite services.