Caregivers need to take care of themselves to take care of loved ones in their charge effectively.
Online tools like schedule planners and finance guides can help caregivers better organize and manage their responsibilities.
Respite care and support groups can help in those times when, despite all of their careful planning, caregivers feel overwhelmed.
By definition, caregiving isn’t easy.
Taking care of yourself can be a full-time job, yet caregivers often drop everything to take care of a loved one. While they wouldn’t have it any other way, caregivers need care, too.
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Whether you’re new to caregiving or have time in the role, finding time to get everything done for your loved one and yourself can seem impossible.
That’s why it’s essential to take time to organize and streamline things as much as possible.
A recent GoHealth survey found that 41% of Gen X’ers and Millennials who help pay for their parents’ healthcare contributed more than $10,000 in the past year. That puts many caregivers in a position where they need help.
- If you’re financially contributing to a loved one’s care, it makes sense to make sure they’re in the best position to help themselves. Discussing the power of attorney so you can help plan how to best use their resources for their care is an important step in establishing a successful caregiver/loved one partnership.
- If you’ve reduced hours at your job or leave the job altogether to provide care, there are resources to help you make ends meet. The National Resource Center on Women and Retirement has a comprehensive guide to help caregivers.
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You’re likely not the only person who loves someone you care for. So as a primary caregiver — for your sake and for the sake of your loved one — it’s a good idea to get others invested in the caregiving plan.
Countless companies offer tools — many of them in the form of a handy app on your cell phone — to get others involved in the caregiving process in an organized way. As with many of the moving parts involved in caregiving, coordination is crucial to taking control.
Even with the best-laid plans, sometimes caregivers simply need to hit the pause button.
That’s where something called respite care can be valuable.
- Respite care is temporary care that provides — well — a respite for primary caregivers. The ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center has an interactive map designed to locate respite care options in your area.
- Depending on where you live, financial support for respite care could be available. For example, North Carolina residents can apply for up to $500 in respite care per calendar year.
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Your ability to be an effective caregiver can be short-circuited by your inability to care for yourself properly. Caregiving can be overwhelming and can lead to feelings that you’re in this alone, but there are resources to help.
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging has a search tool to help find support services in your area, including support groups.
Only when you help yourself can you effectively help others.
- A step-by-step guide to helping a loved one maximize their finances – Caring.com
- A comprehensive guide to help caregivers care for their own finances – WiserWomen.org
- A list of apps designed to organize the caregiving process – Caring.com
- Respite care options in your area – ARCHRespite.org
- Support groups in your area – n4a.org
- Caregiver FAQs — ElderCare.acl.gov
- How to organize a caregiving plan – HelpForCancerCaregivers.org
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Yes. An effective way to reduce stress and not feel so alone is to join a caregiver support group. A common resource for free support groups is Facebook. The platform provides many private groups you can join, dedicated to families who are caring for older adults. They’re completely free and allow you to get support, vent, or ask questions anytime – day or night.
Life can change, but you still have options if you can’t provide care and need to find full-time or part-time help. If your family member needs help with daily activities and personal care, such as household chores, meal preparation or bathing, you likely are seeking in-home care services rather than home health care.
The costs for these services and the eligibility requirements vary. You will often have to hire someone from an agency or someone you know and pay out of pocket. You may live near a volunteer organization that can help. While Medicare will not pay for these services, Medicaid covers limited in-home care or chore services for those who qualify.
It’s never easy to help a loved one from a distance, but before you make any drastic decisions, the best thing you can do is research. Whether you live an hour away, in another state or on separate coasts, finding resources, arranging services, and coordinating your visits can be challenging but not impossible.
Educate yourself on the resources and services available in the community where your family member lives. Although every city is unique, similar services are found throughout the U.S., such as adult day services, in-home care, and nursing homes.
Care managers or social workers may be available through a local department on aging. While Medicare will not pay for in-home services, Medicaid covers limited in-home care or chore services for those who qualify.