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Free education offered for family caregivers

Skills of Central PA and The Arc of Blair County Partner to provide series

Skills of Central PA and The Arc of Blair County, health and human services organizations that serve the Altoona area, are partnering to provide a free educational series for family caregivers who support a loved one with an intellectual or developmental disability.

There are about 65 million family caregivers across the country — relatives, friends or neighbors who provide unpaid support to a person with a disability.

Most people think of family caregivers as those who support an aging family member. However, less attention is paid to those who support adult children, siblings and other loved ones who live with intellectual or developmental disabilities and often require lifelong caregiving.

The series will cover topics including financial planning, tax planning and an evening of mindfulness and meditation for caregiver stress relief.

Each presentation will be led by Blair County local experts: Becky Stevens of Morgan Stanley; Josh Burwell of Sickler, Tarpey and Associates; and Sharon Green of Bloom Yoga.

“Family caregivers are often asked to fulfill multiple roles in a loved one’s life. They’re not just a parent or sibling, they’re acting as a legal guardian, financial planner, emotional support and more,” said Rebecca Aungst, president and CEO of Skills of Central PA. “We’re hoping that this series can help families navigate the wide variety of services and support available to them.”

“Being a family caregiver for someone with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be hard work. There are so many considerations to take into account — benefits, estate planning and the stress that comes along with those responsibilities,” said Maria Brandt, executive director of The Arc of Blair County. “More-over, it can be difficult for caregivers to find and work with experts in disability services. It often takes specialized knowledge to meet the specific needs and concerns of these families.”

“We have a wealth of disability resources in Blair County and throughout central Pennsylvania,” Aungst said. “With this event series, we want to connect the families we work with every day to local experts who can really help them plan for and feel good about the future.”

The series will be held at The Arc of Blair County, 431 Jackson Ave., Altoona. Refreshments will be provided. An RSVP for these events is requested. Contact info@skillsgroup

.org to RSVP.

Financial Planning for Family Caregivers — 5:30 to 7 p.m. June 18: How do trusts, ABLE accounts and other options protect your loved one’s monthly income. It will be presented by Becky Stevens, financial adviser for Morgan Stanley.

Tax Planning for Family Caregivers — 5:30 to 7 p.m. April 30: Learn how to use tax knowledge to save for your loved one. It will be presented by Josh Burwell, EA, CES of Sickler, Tarpey and Associates Certified Public Accountants.

Stress Relief Through Mindful-ness and Meditation for Family Caregivers — 5:30 to 7 p.m. May 20. It will be presented by Sharon Green, director of Bloom Yoga & Wellness.

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