While caring for an aging family member or someone with a chronic illness, the journey will have different stages in which you will encounter different needs. There are many resources out there to support caregivers, but it can be overwhelming to sort through them…and to identify an answer to your specific problem quickly (if it takes 20 hours of research, it may seem easier to do without help).
We will share a breakdown of some of the different types of resources available to match specific needs. For customized recommendations and an analysis of your situation, contact us to learn more about our caregiver consultations.
Problem: I need some help with daily tasks for my loved one. I can’t always be there to provide a ride to an appointment, grocery shopping or cleaning the house. If someone could help out for a few hours each week, it would make my job much easier.
Resources: Home Health Caregivers, such as those available through licensed home care agencies like EasyLiving, Inc. (serving seniors in Pinellas County, Florida), can help with household tasks, transportation, meal preparation, companionship and personal care. Most offer flexible, affordable plans from only a few hours a week to more extensive support when needed.
Senior transportation programs-offered through non-profits and community organizations may provide transportation to doctor’s appointments or low cost public transportation for seniors or disabled individuals. You local Area Agency on Aging is the best starting point for a list of programs.
Lotsahelpinghands.org is a resource to create free, private, web-based communities for organizing friends, family, and colleagues – your ‘circles of community’ – during times of need (coordinate activities, manage volunteers, share needs).
Problem: I need a break, or don’t know what to do about my upcoming vacation plans because I fear leaving my loved one.
Resources: Respite care is the name for care options designed to provide short-term care, a “respite” for caregivers or assistance during a tough time. There are a variety of options for respite care, from licensed home health companies providing someone to care for your loved one at home, to assisted living facility short term stays. Adult Day programs may also offer you a break during the day, and many caregivers find that a blend of solutions best meets their needs and budget.
The National Respite Locator Service helps parents, family caregivers, and professionals find respite services in their state and local area to match their specific needs. Community organizations and faith communities may offer programs to help.
If you will be away, consider hiring a Geriatric Care Manager to oversee care and check in on your loved one, whether at home or in a care facility. Most geriatric care managers provide 24/7 on-call service, so you have peace of mind during your time away.
Problem: I would like to share my frustrations with others who understand–I don’t feel like my friends and family want to hear about it any more. Plus, I’d like to get ideas about what other caregivers have found to be helpful.
Resources: There are a wide variety of caregiver support groups available in most communities. Your Area Agency on Aging should be able to provide a list, or contact a disease-specific organization, such as the Alzheimer’s Association or MS Society.
There are also a number of online communities offering support and interaction with other caregivers. You will find caregiver groups on Facebook and many websites, such as Caring.com. and Caregiver.org. Family Caregivers Alliance offers a good article about online support groups and communities, including how to find a good match and “netiquette”. There are even some support groups done via telephone and The Well Spouse Association for spousal caregivers offers letter-writing “round robins” and mentoring.
Our next blog post will continue this discussion with some additional professional services to aide caregivers and provide you the advice and support you need.
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