If you’re a caregiver, you need to know that there are many resources for you. Some are gadgets that can help you monitor a senior's safety when you're not with them. Others are support services or places you may not know about.
Here's a good list to get you started:
Wearable GPS trackers can tell a senior's exact location. Devices a person wears can send an alert if the person falls. Phone apps can track medications and doctors’ appointments. "Smart home" wireless monitoring can tell if a door is left open or there's smoke in the house. Software can connect caregivers who are sharing support.
Yes, technology can be a huge help in caregiving.
This grassroots approach builds a network of support for people who want to keep living in their own homes, or "age in place." Members pay a fee (typically a few hundred dollars a year) for services that may range from transportation to home maintenance. It means older people don’t have to call on family and friends for help all the time.
About three out of four caregivers have had a paying job at some time while caregiving, too. More and more workplaces are recognizing their needs. Ask your employer if your job has programs in place, including things like flexible working hours or telecommuting. Your company may also help you find skilled nursing help or other support.
There are many other places you can turn for help:
Care managers -- A geriatric care manager is a hired nurse or social worker who looks at a family’s caregiving situation and helps plan, coordinate, and monitor care. They can help with a one-time assessment or manage care long-term.
Companion care services -- These provide people who come into the home and help with daily life. Services can range from preparing meals and giving baths to sorting mail and paying bills. They may also do housework and make sure your loved one eats and exercises.
Skilled care – Professionals, usually nurses or physical or occupational therapists, come to the home to provide health care. This might include giving medications, taking care of wounds, and giving shots.
Adult day care -- These centers provide seniors with care or company during the day. Some offer outings and social activities. Others may offer only health care.
Continuing care communities -- These retirement centers offer independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing all in one place. Healthy adults can live in apartments or homes until they need more help. They gradually get more assistance as they need it, without having to leave the community.
Respite care -- When you need a break, you can take a few hours or days off with the help of respite care. Your loved one can either get care at home or do a short-term stay in a skilled nursing facility.
Area Agency on Aging -- Your local agency offers free referrals to elder care services in your community. These include adult day care, in-home care, senior transportation, senior meals, and legal help. Find local information by calling 800-677-1116 or visiting www.eldercare.gov.