From CBS News: Millions of Americans are family caregivers. A nationwide support group aims to help them.

This is an excerpt from the CBS News article Millions of Americans are family caregivers. A nationwide support group aims to help them written by Barry Petersen and Kerry Breen

An estimated 38 million Americans are family caregivers. Among them is former minister Jim Meadows, who went from helping his entire community to focusing his efforts on his wife, Georgie, who has Alzheimer’s.

As Meadows cared for his wife, he soon realized he also needed help. The family caregiving work done by Meadows and millions of other Americans is valued at about $600 billion a year, but they pay the price in pain, loneliness, and stress.

“I think it’s hard to for men to admit that they need help in any any kind of situation, and also this sense that we’re taught to be able to fix things,” Meadows said.

It can be hard for caregivers to find support or connect with other caregivers, but all that changed during the coronavirus pandemic. Duet, a decades-old organization based out of Phoenix, Arizona, is devoted to supporting family caregivers, and as the world locked down to slow the spread of COVID-19, it transferred its support groups online, making them available to a whole new audience.

“We realized that we had work to do to better serve the people we intend to serve, they can’t all just make it to us. So we had to figure out how to make it to them,” explained Ann Wheat, the director of Duet. “We think of it as a virtual community, for these family caregivers.”

For Meadows, joining a Duet support group meant finally finding people who understood what he was going through. The online support groups also reached places like Berryville, Arkansas, a town of just 5,000 where there are few resources for family caregivers like Cynthia Morin, who cares for her husband who has dementia.

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