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Foxworthy joins state effort to highlight role of caregivers

By John Michaelson, Public News Service • Nov 28, 2013 at 6:00 PM

One of the nation's top comedians teamed up with AARP of Tennessee recently to help highlight the growing number of people who are providing care for a member of their family or for a friend.

Jeff Foxworthy is featured in a short video that sends the message caregiving is serious business, but sometimes you just have to let it go and laugh.

"If you are adept at opening doors with your butt so you can pull a wheelchair, you might be a caregiver," Foxworthy said in the video. "If you've ever hooked up your dog to your wife's wheelchair just to see if it would work, you might be a caregiver. And since the holidays are upon us, if you've ever changed a dressing while cooking turkey with dressing, you might be a caregiver."

In Tennessee, nearly 1.7 million adults currently act as caregivers, and that figure is only expected to increase as the population grows older.

Foxworthy joined the campaign at the request of his friend, Nashville author and radio host Peter Rosenberger, who began his journey as a caregiver in 1986 when he married his wife, Gracie.

"She had had a car accident a couple years before that, a pretty devastating one," Rosenberger said. "We didn't know how devastating until the years unfolded. To date, she has endured 78 surgeries; both legs were amputated in the '90s; 60-plus doctors, 12 hospitals, seven insurance companies and $9 million in medical bills."

Over the years, Rosenberger said he has learned how important it is for caregivers to also make sure they're taking care of themselves in terms of things such as health and finances. As far as supporting caregivers in your life, he suggested practical ideas that can ease the stress and challenges.

"For example, don't buy another shirt and tie for your dad who's a caregiver. Buy him a service that takes care of the appliances in their house. Or send a service over there that cleans the gutters. If your dad is taking care of your mom, do you really want him up on the roof? Little things like that. You can start reframing the conversation and discussion so you start doing practical things to help," Rosenberger said.

More information on caregiving resources and strategies for supporting caregivers – plus the entire Foxworthy video, "You Might be a Caregiver, if..." – are on the AARP website, blog.aarp.org.

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