Support for Caregivers

Support for Caregivers

Caregiving can seem like a long laundry list of things that can be overwhelming. In my Caregiving Tips 101 post, I talked about some things to consider as a caregiver. If you haven’t already, please check it out here. Because it is not an easy task and comes with responsibilities, in the long run it can result in a range of emotions. The emotional toll can break even the most resilient of us. Going through all the steps to make sure things are in order can result in a number of challenges and feelings such as:

– Stress
– Feeling emotionally drained
– Financial strain (there are a number of unexpected out of pocket expenses)
– Depression
– Physical pain
– Fatigue
– Not managing one’s health (i.e. physically or mentally)

Taking care of yourself should be a priority, because you need to be your best self in order to be able to take care of your loved one. If you cannot take care of yourself then chances of you taking care of someone else is very minimal. The above feelings are natural but you don’t have to go through it alone. There are a number of programs and services to aid you along the way. Don’t be shy in taking advantage of these programs because they are there to help us.

Below is a list of some caregiver support programs. Please note that this list is not meant to be exhaustive but these are some resources that I have come to know about and use it in my own personal caregiving journey:

  • Paid Family Leave: State such as New York, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Oregon, Connecticut, Washington and New Jersey have paid family and medical leave. This is for those who wish to take a paid leave of absence of from work to take care of a loved one with a serious health condition. Please note that the number of paid weeks and paid benefits varies from state to state.
  • Respite Care: As a caregiver, you are often juggling a multiple of responsibilities involving the care of your loved one. However, although caregiving can seem like a full-time job in itself, most still have other life responsibilities. These can include work, a family, raising kids, volunteer work, among others. As much as you may feel the need to do/handle everything on your own, remember you need the break! Here are a number of respite care options available such as:

    – Part-time Home Aid/Companion
    – Adult Day Care Center
    – Overnight Stays at a Nursing Facility

  • Support Groups: Caregiving is a huge undertaking and it can be nice to have a group of others who can relate to you. You can find a support group near you or online (i.e. Facebook) where you can connect with others who can relate to how you feel and the challenges you are going through.

To learn more about these and other programs, contact your local department of health or aging, a home care agency or a patient advocacy organization.

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Caregiving Tips 101

Caregiving Tips 101

The role of caregiving can be a huge responsibility. Your plate can be full of many things think and talk about. There are many things to put into place to take care of a loved one while also honoring their wishes. It can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, it is important to understand the many caregiving responsibilities and things to have in place for yourself and your loved ones.

I have broken down the caregiving responsibilities into five main categories, they include:

Legal/Estate– This involves taking responsibility in making sure that the person’s wishes and assets are protected and honored. Some of the question to put into consideration include:

  • Is there a living will in place the event you or a loved one cannot make or express your/their wishes?
  • Is there a will that outlines the direction on how to handle your estate after you or your loved one has passed on?
  • Who is listed as the Power of Attorney to make any legal decisions that are needed?
  • Who is listed as the Healthcare Proxy to make health and medical decisions on behalf of the patient (whether that is you or a loved one)?
  • What kind of money accounts do you or your loved one have and who is listed as a beneficiary?

Financial– This includes managing finances, paying for the funeral and other final expenses. Some questions to consider can be:

  • Is there a life insurance policy? If so, with what company and how do you file a claim once a loved one has passed on?
  • How are you paying for medical care, is it Medicare, Medicaid or a long-term insurance policy?
  • Do you or your loved one have pension or Social Security benefits? Who qualifies for survivor benefits once you or your loved one has passed on?

Medical: This involves knowing the medical state of yourself or your loved one. Some consideration questions include;

  • Do you have a list of current medications and their dosage?
  • Do you know the family medical history?
  • Do you have a list of current doctors and medical providers?

Housing– This is about prepping the home for safety as we age. Some things to consider

  • What home modifications are needed to get in and around the house? Ramp? Stair lift? Railings for the couch, toilet, tub or bed?

Care options– This is about asking where does one want to receive care? Some questions to ask can include:

  • What are the pros and cons of receiving care at home verses in an assisted living facility or a nursing facility?
  • How do you transition from one place of care to another?

This information is coming from a place of care and personal experience. I am sharing not because I am an expert. I am navigating this process myself and wanted to share what has come up for me. As you move forward with the abovementioned items, I recommend you to consult an estate attorney, financial advisor and a patient advocate. They are trained professionals who can help you explore your options and make the best decisions for you.

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Lifting Up Our Caregivers

Lifting Up Our Caregivers

November marks the celebration of National Caregivers’ Month. It is a time to recognize, give praise and support to those who dedicate their time to caring for others. You are the heroes the world needs to know of, but get very little (if any) recognition.

But who is a caregiver? This is anyone who steps up to care for a friend, a family member or a neighbor that they feel responsible for. A caregiver may or may not be related to the person. Most caregivers tend to be the spouse, parent, child, friend or neighbor of the person who is in need of care. The most common caregiver is a family member who takes care of their loved ones without any payment. A professional caregiver (also known as a home aide) is one who is hired via an agency to care for a recipient. In either situation, the caregiver can give medical and/or non-medical assistance. Someone may step into the role of a caregiver for a few weeks, a few months and even up to few years.

The person in need of care can range from someone who is chronically ill, disabled or an aging adult. The level of care can range from minimal support to 24/7. This will depend on who and the condition they are in. According to the American Society on Aging, there are more than 65 million people in the US who provide care for a loved one. Some of the tasks of a caregiver can include medical care such as transportation to doctor’s appointments, picking up and making sure all medications are taken at the appropriate time. They can provide assistance with daily living activities such as bathing and going to the bathroom. Other duties can include financial management, house chores and meal preparation. Many in the process of taking care of a loved one, do not realize that they are playing the role of a caregiver. Most of them feel that they are supposed to do it because that is what you do for someone you love- you take care of them! For that very reason, there are very many caregivers who are unpaid, many who are balancing work/full-time job in addition to caring for their loved one.

As a result of the many things involved in being a caregiver, many go through mental and physical fatigue. This being the case, it is a huge undertaking being a caregiver which should not be minimalized. Caring for a person whether its family or a neighbor is not an easy task by any means. It takes heart, compassion, love and most importantly, it takes patience.

I want to bring awareness to the needs of this community as someone who is a caregiver and is a supporter for all their hard work! Happy National Caregivers’ Month!

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