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Skills, The Arc partner to provide free educational series for family caregivers

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.

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.

The series will be hosted with simultaneous online and in-person attendance options, and sessions will cover topics including financial planning, tax planning and an evening of mindfulness and meditation for caregiver stress relief.

Sessions include:

5:30 to 7 p.m. Aug. 13 — Financial Planning for Family Caregivers, presented by Becky Stevens, financial adviser for Morgan Stanley.

5:30 to 7 p.m. Sept. 16 — Stress Relief Through Mindfulness and Meditation for Family Caregivers, presented by Sharon Green, director of Bloom Yoga & Wellness.

5:30 to 7 p.m. Oct. 21 — Tax Planning for Family Caregivers, presented by Josh Burwell of Sickler, Tarpey and Associates.

“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 account for — benefits, estate planning and the stress that comes along with those responsibilities,” said Maria Brandt, executive director of The Arc of Blair County. “Moreover, 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.”

Aungst agreed. “We have a wealth of disability resources throughout central Pennsylvania. 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.”

An RSVP is required for both in-person and online attendance. For in-person attendance, these events are hosted at The Arc of Blair County, 431 Jackson Ave., Altoona. For online attendance, Zoom call information will be provided upon RSVP. Please contact Skills at info@skillsofcentralpa.org or call

238-3245, ext. 238.

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