Caregiving is . . . “an equal opportunity employer crossing every boundary: financial, geographic, ethnic, educational and family relationships or partnerships,” says Kathleen Kelly, MPA, of the Family Caregiver Alliance.

These days, more and more of us—an estimated 66 million Americans—are caregivers. Some are living with a parent, spouse or child who has a serious disability or a chronic illness . . . others may be helping an aging relative or neighbor with grocery shopping, transportation or household bill-paying.

For the care-dependent person and his/her caregiver, financial concerns can compound the challenges of daily life. In addition to typical household and living expenses, the high cost of medications, special medical supplies and equipment can cause financial hardship. The cost of assistive devices is a serious problem. Too often, people with disabilities and chronic illnesses are unable to afford the assistive devices they need to improve (or to maintain) their independence, safety and quality of life.

The good news is that The Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) helps consumers who need financial aid to buy an assistive device. The device might be a specially-adapted van or car, a hearing aid or adaptive communication equipment, a stair-glide or entry ramp, a wheelchair, an I-pad or other item that allows for greater independence. Federal regulations define an assistive device as “any item, piece of equipment or product system . . . that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.” (29 U.S.C., Sec 202

[2])

If you live in Pennsylvania and have a disability, you may qualify for a PATF mini-loan, mini-grant or very-low-interest loan to purchase the equipment you need. Various grant and loan options are available, depending on the cost of the item. To learn more about these resources, go to www.patf.us or call PATF toll-free at (888) 744-1938.

The Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation also offers a money management guide, “Cents and Sensibility”, which was developed in cooperation with Widener University. The guide includes step-by-step instructions on personal budgeting, financial management and borrowing.

For caregivers and for those who depend on them, PATF is a convenient, reliable source of information on the resources and programs for Pennsylvanians with disabilities and special needs. You can read more online at www.patf.us or by phoning (888) 744-1938, toll-free.