Getting Help From Other Caregivers
If you're a caregiver, the work can seem endless and the responsibilities overwhelming. You might feel like you're facing it completely alone.
But that's not the case. No matter what your situation -- in terms of your family support and finances -- you can get help. It's out there. Caregivers just need to know how -- and where -- to ask for it.
Other Caregiving Options
Family and friends. Start with the obvious. Don't hesitate to ask other family members to help out with caregiving and ease your load a bit. Figure out what you need, and be direct. See if your brother can start handling your mom's doctor's visits. Or ask your teenage daughter to take your mom out for a movie so you can get some time off. Some people may be more willing to help than you expect.
and adult day care. Senior centers typically offer meals, recreation, exercise, and sometimes transportation at no charge. They're also a great place for you to network with other caregivers. Adult day care programs offer similar but more extensive services to people who need more care. Costs vary quite a bit from region to region.
Help at home. There are different sorts of caregiving help you can get at home. Personal and in-home care services can help with daily activities, such as getting dressed and preparing meals. If your loved one could just use some companionship during the day, a volunteer organization might help. And if she needs more serious medical care, consider home health care. Depending on what you need, the costs for these caregiving services vary from free to hundreds of dollars a day. Keep in mind that Medicare might cover some costs of home health care if your loved one is recovering from an injury or surgery. For people with limited assets, Medicaid may pay some of the costs, too.
Meal programs. Many areas have local groups -- such as Meals On Wheels -- that provide free or low-cost nutritious meals. Some grocery stores offer prepared meals that can be delivered.
Important Resources for Caregivers
Where can a caregiver find this help? One option is to consult with a geriatric care manager. You'll probably have to pay for his or her services, but they may be enormously helpful. Geriatric care managers can help you find caregiving resources in your area, guide you on financial and legal issues, and coordinate different types of care. Together, you can come up with a caregiving plan.
There are also many government and nonprofit organizations that can direct elderly people and their caregivers toward assistance. Here are a few:
Eldercare Locator helps caregivers find local organizations that provide care to older people.
BenefitsCheckUp offers a way to find programs or assistance for which your loved one might qualify.
Area Agency on Aging will point you toward local sources of help and information.
Even though you may not realize it, you may already know some great caregiving resources. Start talking to your doctors, nurses, relatives, friends, and neighbors. They could know details about local services and facilities that you can't learn anywhere else.