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RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services recently announced a new phone service helpline for family caregivers in North Carolina caring for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The Caregiver Navigator, a service of Project CARE (Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty), is a first port of call for caregivers with unmet needs. Caregivers, professionals and the general public can call the Caregiver Navigator toll-free at (844) 728-0191 from anywhere in the state to get their answers to questions. Project Care provided the following example questions that callers could ask:

  • “I’ve been caring for my husband who has dementia for six years and don’t know how much longer I can continue given my own personal health issues. What are our options?”
  • “I need a break, but I can’t afford a private nurse for mom. Are there alternatives?”
  • “What’s the difference between Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, and where can I find out more?”
  • “I’ve been all alone at home with dad for six months. Is there anyone I can talk to?”
  • “My aunt often gets lost in our own neighborhood. What can I do?”

At the beginning of 2019, the Alzheimer’s Association projected that 479,000 family caregivers would care for people with dementia in North Carolina, putting in a staggering 545 million hours of unpaid care. By the end of 2020, many of these same caregivers had an added challenge: dealing with the risk of COVID-19 and the social distancing and loneliness that came with it.

Community resources were and remain harder to find for these caregivers, but the Caregiver Navigator can link them into a network of resources, including caregiver and dementia education, respite and support groups, according to NCDHHS. The navigator works closely with the six regional Project Care offices and the Family Caregiver Support Program, administered through 16 Area Agencies on Aging. Together they form a network of resources offered by the NCDHHS Division of Aging and Adult Services in support of family caregivers across the state. Funding for the service is provided by the ADRC/No Wrong Door System Funding Opportunity – Critical Relief Funds for COVID-19 Pandemic Response, according to NCDHHS.

For more information about the Caregiver Navigator, call (844) 728-0191 or email DHHS.caregiver@dhhs.nc.gov.

About the Division of Aging and Adult Services

The North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services works to promote the independence and enhance the dignity of North Carolina’s older adults, persons with disabilities and their families through a community-based system of opportunities, services, benefits and protections.

The High Country Area Agency on Aging serves Alleghany, Avery, Ashe, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties and is a hub for for resources and support for older adults in the North Carolina High Country, according to their website.

More information and resources can be found at www.highcountryaging.org/resources/resource-guide.

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