This month we recognize the importance of the caregiver. Your center's staff plays a pivotal role in extending support, attention and love to so many adults on a daily basis. We thank you for your commitment to these individuals and their families

November is National Caregiver Month - 
Speaking up for those who step up.

November is National Caregiver Support Month – a time to recognize the abundance of caregiving happening in families and communities across Pennsylvania. More than 1.8 million Pennsylvanians are caring for frail family members, and as our population ages, even more are likely to find themselves in that role.

The path that leads to caregiving is not always clearly marked. Sometimes it’s a role taken on quickly in response to a medical event. Others take the role on gradually as their spouse, parent or other loved one ages. Many of us will at some point travel this incredibly fulfilling, extremely demanding road for which there is often no preparation, no training, no requirements … except a loving heart and willingness to step up.

Common stresses associated with the caregiving role are financial, physical, emotional and mental, including dealing with anxiety or depression. Caregivers sacrifice careers, rework retirement plans and can become socially isolated. Whether someone is caring for a loved one or professionally provides these services to care receivers, their own self-care is just as important to their role. One cannot provide the best care to someone else if they are neglecting their own wellness.

At the Department of Aging, we’ve seen a rise in the need for caregivers as our senior population continues to grow, and as many Pennsylvania grandparents continue to step in as caregivers for their grandchildren due to the opioid crisis. So in a broader sense, we need to think more creatively and intergenerationally about caregiving. We need to educate younger people about the professional and personal rewards of giving back to those who cared for us.

Pennsylvania’s  Caregiver Support Program  is a resource we must encourage caregivers to take advantage of, because many taking on such a selfless role may be less likely to ask for help – or simply too exhausted to research what’s out there. This program can provide respite care, reimbursement for out-of-pocket caregiving expenses, education, training, counseling, and more.

While we designate November as National Caregiver Support Month, as any caregiver can tell you, the caring extends beyond. For many, it’s a 24/7 job. So let’s be sure to touch base with the caregivers we work with. Ask how they are feeling and let them know help is available. Care receivers rely on caregivers to provide assistance in some of their daily and most personal needs. We must ensure that Pennsylvania caregivers can continue to provide quality care by taking care of themselves as well.

Robert Torres
Acting Secretary of Aging
Legislative Updates

During the month of October, the legislature considered the following bills:

  • Senate Bill 819, sponsored by Senator Mensch, which would update the Older Adult Protective Services Act (OAPSA). 
  • House Bill 684, sponsored by Representative Sonney, which would exclude principal and accrued interest on savings bonds from PACE/PACENET eligibility. 
  • House Bill 375, sponsored by Representative Goodman, which would exclude veteran’s payments from PACE/PACENET eligibility. 
  • House Bill 775, sponsored by Representative Diamond, which would require the PACE program to crosscheck Department of Health Vital Statistics for death records.


On Monday, October 28, the House Transportation Committee held a hearing on the potential use of a brokerage model for the Commonwealth’s Medical Assistance Transportation Program (MATP).
Both the House and Senate will return to session Tuesday, November 12. 

There are no scheduled hearings at this time.
Caregiver Academy - Delaware County

The Department of Aging’s Caregiver Support Program, administered through its local Area Agencies on Aging, provides eligible caregivers with reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs, education, caregiver training, counseling, respite care and more to alleviate the stresses associated with caregiving. In Delaware County, a local partnership has become a model program for enriching education and training resources for caregivers at the community level.

Senior Community Services, which serves as the subcontractor of the Caregiver Support Program, together with the Aging and Disability Resource Center and County of Delaware Services for the Aging, have developed the Caregiver Academy, a free six-week educational training session series that aims to educate, support and provide respite care to caregivers.

The program is structured in weekly 90-minute sessions led by psychologists, licensed social workers, and legal professionals and held in community locations. The sessions cover a range of topics that include balancing career and caregiving, grief and loss, self-care for the caregiver, managing difficult behavior and hoarding, technology in caregiving, elder law, identifying and avoiding scams, Medicare 101, preventing falls and first aid.

One of the program’s major built-in innovations is to help caregivers overcome a common barrier to attendance: finding respite care for their loved ones during the sessions and costs associated with that service. The Caregiver Academy provides free activity-focused respite on-site, which allows caregivers to take their loved ones along with them when appropriate.

Sessions usually attract 15-20 caregivers and about five care receivers. Attendees tend to be reflective of the caregiver population: women in their mid-50s to mid-60s who are retired from full-time work. Surveys administered upon each series completion have produced notably positive reviews of the subjects covered. But the total value of the Academy’s offerings is perhaps best expressed by individual caregivers like Adeline, a Delaware County resident who attended with her husband Juris:
“Attending the Academy was very beneficial because it gave us an outlet for positive interaction with others and an opportunity to learn how to be a better caregiver,” said Adeline. “I also learned that there are other people in far worse situations than mine. I also appreciated having my husband involved in other activities while I was in class so I could concentrate on learning new caregiving skills. I would like to see more events like the Academy offered to caregivers in the future.”

To learn more about the Caregiver Academy,  contact County of Delaware Services for the Aging

To learn more about PDA’s Caregiver Support Program visit the  Department of Aging's Caregiver Support Program page .