WDAY: The News Leader

Published May 11, 2011, 09:38 AM

Proposed cuts would put more stress on those caring for the elderly

Moorhead, Minn. (WDAY TV) - Hundreds of families in our area are pleading with Congress to re-consider a plan to completely gut a special program called The State Caregiver Support Grant. In Minnesota, it means more than 8-thousand families would likely have to put spouses or parents suffering Alzheimer's and other health issues in nursing homes.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Back in the 1950's, you didn't mess with Bob Stevenson. The rural Felton farm boy had a Harley to prove it. Today, Chris Nygaard, an AmeriCorps volunteer and student at MSCTC in Moorhead, comes to spend time with Bob whose Alzheimer's has been getting worse.

CHRIS NYGAARD – Volunteer: “Getting warmer out. At least it is not rainy. It is a pretty typical week for me.”

That allows Bob's wife Helen, time to get out of the house and get things done she can't do because she is busy caring for her husband.

HELEN STEVENSON – Moorhead: “Running errands, dentists, doctor and bills; at least I am able to get out of the house and not worry about him.”

Lutheran Social Services administers the Caregiver Support Grant that Congress is planning to eliminate.

TARA GIESE - Lutheran Social Services: “Our families are willing sacrifice so much to take care of people they love and all they are asking for is respite time to do some of the things they need to do and some fun things for themselves.”

What is frustrating for the families like LSS is if the 8000 people go without this kind of care, their loved ones will end up in a care facility costing the government even more money.

CHRIS NYGAARD – Volunteer: “It is a good thing for the community. It really helps out someone has to do it and I am glad it is me.”

It is that tough balancing issue, trying to take care of loved ones at home, while battling fatigue, frustration, and now the government.

“If they would live a day in our life, they would know how important it is.”

The state of Minnesota gets about 2-million dollars a year for the Older American Act, which covers the care-giving services.