When Unpaid Caregivers Need Help, These Mentors Step Up

Katherine Davis-Young, Public News Service – AZ

PHOENIX – More than 800,000 Arizonans and 40 million people across the country serve as unpaid caregivers for sick or aging loved ones, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But who cares for the caregivers? A Phoenix nonprofit is trying to address that.

An unpaid caregiver might be an adult looking after an aging parent, a spouse caring for a partner, or even someone providing support to a friend or loved one from across the country. Daniela Saylor, family caregiver services program manager for the organization Duet, said caregivers often spend so much time taking care of someone else that they don’t have time to get out of the house.

“Unfortunately a lot of caregivers – I would even venture to say the majority of caregivers – feel isolated at some point, if not throughout the entirety of their caregiving journey,” she said.

If caregivers do have time to talk to other friends and family, Saylor said, they often have trouble expressing all they’re going through. So, Duet offers a free mentor program to match caregivers with others who have been in similar situations. Mentors and caregivers talk by phone for an hour a week.

Duet is looking for new mentors to take part in a training session on June 27 in Phoenix.

Saylor said Duet trains mentors to be active listeners and guides them throughout the process of providing caregiver support.

“The mentor program was designed with ease and convenience in mind, for both the mentor volunteer and the caregiver receiving the support,” she said. “So, as a mentor, you’re able to have a huge impact on someone’s life by volunteering an hour of your time.”

Since its inception in 2016, she said, Duet’s mentor program has provided support to around 140 unpaid caregivers.

More information about the Duet caregiver mentor program is online at duetaz.org.