Some common issues come up for many caregivers, and there are resources to help.
Adult day care: These centers offer seniors care or company during the day. Some have outings and social activities. Others may offer only health care.
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. To find local information, call 800-677-1116 or visit www.eldercare.gov.
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 see how care is going. They can help with a one-time assessment or manage care long term. Some health care organizations or doctor’s offices offer this as part of your care.
Companion care services: With these, people 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.
Continuing care communities: These organizations 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.
Palliative care: The goal of palliative care is to tend to your whole self -- physical and emotional -- while you have a serious illness. It can help you and your loved ones with decision-making, understanding your situation, and taking care of your condition and the stresses and emotions it can bring up. There are doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals who have special training in this field and who can be part of your health care team. Palliative care is not the same as hospice care, which is generally for people in the last 6 months of their lives or who have a terminal illness. You may hear some in-home palliative care programs called “pre-hospice care,” but you can also have palliative care if you’re in a hospital or as an outpatient (which means you’re not staying in a hospital).
Respite care: When you need a break from caregiving, 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.
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.
Village movement: This grass-roots 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 (usually 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.
Workplace resources: Many caregivers also have a paying job. More and more workplaces are recognizing their needs. Ask your employer if your job has programs, including things like flexible working hours or telecommuting. Your company may also help you find skilled nursing help or other support.
Groups That Give Advice on Caregiving
There are lots of resources online that can help you make plans for taking care of your loved one. Check out these websites for some useful information about caregiving.