Family Caregiver Month: DES Celebrates Family Caregivers Supporting Their Loved Ones

As proclaimed by Governor Katie Hobbs, November was Family Caregiver Month. DES recognizes and celebrates the approximately 850,000 family caregivers across the state who provide critical care to their loved ones. These individuals continue to sacrifice their time and energy to help ensure their relatives are able to live healthy and happy lives, often from the comfort of their own homes.

Many family caregivers do not formally consider themselves as “caregivers.” What they do for their family member is what they would expect any son or daughter, grandparent or other relative to do for family. They accept the role of family caregiver out of love and duty, and it’s truly admirable. However, it’s important to the DES Family Caregiver Support Program that caregivers understand the importance of the unique role they’ve assumed for their family. By identifying themselves as family caregivers, they have access to a wide range of support programs that can help alleviate the stress that can come with taking care of a loved one with often complex needs.

Through the Family Caregiver Support Program, eligible family members can learn more about services and supports within the community that can help them care for their loved ones. They can access crucial respite services so they can take a well-deserved break and care for themselves as well as those around them. They can even receive financial reimbursement for eligible purchases they make that help their loved one live more comfortably in their own home.

Lifespan Respite Care Program

Through the Lifespan Respite Care Program (LRCP), DES and the Arizona Caregiver Coalition work collaboratively with the Area Agencies on Aging and community-based and faith-based communities to provide alternative respite care options for caregivers across the lifespan. I’m pleased to share that we launched a four-year project in September 2023 to expand the statewide coordinated lifespan respite system, building upon the partnerships and support structures already available to provide much needed relief to family caregivers.

Among our goals is to include nontraditional services, increase outreach and awareness, strengthen services for underserved communities, improve our needs assessments and program evaluations, and expand the Arizona Respite Network overall. Because of industry staffing shortages and service “droughts,” among other issues, caregivers can have difficulty accessing critical respite services, and our goal is to help bridge those gaps so caregivers have the time to take care of themselves.

The Arizona LRCP provides vital respite programs to individuals who are ineligible for existing programs, recognizes younger caregivers and parents raising children with special needs, and works within the current Lifespan Grant funding parameters to support caregivers with the Respite Voucher Program and the Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) Respite Program. For more information on respite services, please visit des.az.gov/FamilyCaregiver.

The Arizona Family Caregiver Reimbursement Program

Through the Arizona Family Caregiver Reimbursement Program, family caregivers can be reimbursed 50% for home modifications and assistive care technology, up to $1,000, for each qualifying family member for which they provide care. These purchases help enable individuals to be more mobile, safe and independent within their own homes, which can delay or even prevent costly facility care. Examples of qualifying expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Ramps/low-inclined walkways
  • High-rise toilets with handrails
  • Hearing aids
  • Bed handles
  • Wheelchairs
  • Vehicle wheelchair lift
  • Medical alert devices

The Family Caregiver Reimbursement Program is currently only funded through June 2024, so if you’re interested in learning more, visit des.az.gov/FamilyCaregiver and start your application today!

Thank You, Family Caregivers

Family caregivers in Arizona are estimated to provide more than $14.5 billion of unpaid care each year. Every hour they spend supporting their loved ones helps to keep older adults, individuals and children with disabilities, grandchildren and more in their own homes and with their families, and I am grateful for the dedication and passion of our Arizona caregivers. DES is honored to be able to work with our partners to help those supporting their loved ones.

Angie Rodgers