National Grandparents Day is Sunday, Sept. 11. For 38 years, the first Sunday after Labor Day has been a day to pay tribute to this nation’s grandparents. These days, being a grandparent can be demanding, and I want to point out help that is available.

The Administration on Aging’s National Family Caregiver Support Program provides support for grandparents who are raising their young grandchildren. The program enables the Aging Network to address the unique needs of grandparents (and other relatives) who step in to provide care for their grandchildren.

For example, in 2014, the NFCSP served more than 13,000 grandparents and others raising grandchildren, more than 3,500 of whom received supplemental services, including legal assistance, school supplies and more than 260,000 hours of respite to give them a chance to rest and recharge.

It is important to also recognize that “grandparent” connections do not have to be biological. There are myriad programs that allow older adults to serve in “surrogate” grandparent roles. One of the most well-known programs is the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Foster Grandparent Program, which is allowing more than 25,000 older adults the opportunity to give back by sharing their wisdom with more than 189,000 children around the country.

As the designated Agency on Aging for Western Maine, SeniorsPlus salutes these elders and the programs and individuals that work to assist them.

Betsy Sawyer-Manter, Lewiston, president and CEO, SeniorsPlus

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