Caregiving often comes with new responsibilities and unfamiliar tasks, yet most caregivers never receive education or training. In most communities there are different organizations that may offer information or support to help with caregiver duties.
Caregiving can be quite rewarding, and it can be quite challenging. Try not to have rigid expectations of how it will go or how you will feel. Showing up is good; perfection is the enemy.
There are resources available to caregivers through government sponsored websites like Health.gov as well as private organizations such as AARP and Caregiver Action Network, resources like Caring.com to help you find a place to live, and USA.gov’s information may help you get paid for your caregiving. See the Resources section for more suggestions.
Your local Area Agency on Aging or the Eldercare Locator and other organizations are rich sources of information and will display the services available in your area. These may include Meals on Wheels, caregiver training classes, transportation, friendly visitors and respite care so that you can have a break.
Seek support groups of people caring for like patients; there are many online and in person. The National Institute of Aging, the CDC, the National Alliance on Caregiving, and AARP all are rich resources for help and connections. The Family Caregiver Alliance, CareGiving.com, The Caregiver Space, and Caring Across Generations all offer information and support for caregivers.
The American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association and the Alzheimer’s Association as well as many other disease specific associations have good information for caregivers.
Support may be available through various religiously-based services, such as Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Catholic Family and Children’s Services in your Diocese, Muslim Family Services, and your local group of any religious or cultural affiliation.
Services that may help you
There are many types of home care and it is important to think about what type of services you need before contacting an agency. Home care services can include medical care, social support and help with chores or tasks of daily living. Services are delivered in the home or a non-medical living facility such as a senior living community to people recovering from an accident or surgery, those who are disabled and people who are seriously ill. Caring.com is a Yelp-like site that is free to consumers and offers referrals to and review of various providers of home care and other services.
There must be a medical need to receive home healthcare. Home healthcare includes skilled nursing care, as well as other skilled care services, like physical and occupational therapy, speech- language therapy, and medical social services. These services are given by a variety of skilled healthcare professionals at home. The goal of short-term home healthcare is to provide treatment for an illness or injury. Medicare covers home healthcare in certain circumstances (Source: Medicare.gov). Check online and ask the doctor if your family member or friend is eligible for these services.
Non-Medical Home Care
If your friend or loved one needs help with non-medical tasks or simply needs companionship you may want to consider hiring a non-medical home care worker. These workers may help with household chores including cooking, laundry, shopping, cleaning, bill paying and driving your loved one to appointments. One of the benefits of this type of service is companionship with someone new who is focused on caring for and talking with your loved one.
Cleaning and Yard Work Services
Your local Area Agency on Aging may be able to arrange for chore and yard maintenance services or put you in touch with religious, scout or other volunteer groups that provide one-time or occasional services to older persons who need help.
Senior Centers offer older people a safe environment where they can take part in a range of activities led by trained personnel. Meal and nutrition programs, information and assistance, health and wellness programs, recreational and arts programs, transportation services, volunteer opportunities, educational opportunities, employee assistance, intergenerational programs, social and community action opportunities and other special services are often available through a senior center. Eldercare Directory has nationwide resources for seniors and those caring for them. Also, check your state, county, and city websites for more information.
Adult Day Care Services
For older persons with serious limitations in their mobility, those who are frail, and those who have medical and cognitive problems, adult day care centers can provide care in a safe, structured environment. Adult day care services include personal and nursing care, congregate meals, therapeutic exercises, and social and recreational activities. Most adult day care centers, like senior centers, are supported through public and non-profit organizations. Fees may range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars a day, depending on the services needed.
To locate an adult day care provider in your area, visit the National Adult Day Services Association’s Website and click on Find an Adult Day Service.
To find out about home-delivered meals programs and other meals programs, you can contact Meals on Wheels, the National Eldercare Locator or the State or Area Agency on Aging. If these services are not available, see if your grocery store prepares food orders for pick-up or if it provides home-delivery service.