Resources for Family Caregivers
Family Caregiver: You're Not Alone
As a family caregiver, you may sometimes feel as if you are in this situation all by yourself. From the isolated perspective that caregiving engenders, it's understandable why you feel this way.
You're not likely to feel any differently about your situation knowing there are millions of other people in the United States who are in circumstances similar to your own. Perhaps once you know how to connect with some of these other family caregivers and with the resources available to you, your feeling of isolation will subside. You may even begin to feel empowered.
National Family Caregiver Support Program
If You Are or Know a Caregiver...
You're Not Alone
First Steps to Finding Support for the Caregiver
- Look first to your own community, county and state for agencies that provide assistance to older adults. You may be able to receive assistance with your responsibilities in care giving.
- Many programs designed to aid older adults are based on financial need, while a few are based solely on the need for personal care. While these programs won't free you from housekeeping and other day-to-day chores, you might get a break with providing personal care for your care recipient from one to five days per week.
- Home delivered meal programs are another resource to consider. If you are a senior yourself, both you and the care recipient may be eligible to receive hot meals delivered to your home each day. Some meal programs have a pre-set amount for each meal; other programs have suggested donations.
- Food banks are available through churches and public agencies.To use these services you may need to show financial need; it depends on the programs available in your area.
- Don't hesitate to make use of any resources for which you or the care recipient may be eligible. At the start of the care giving process, you may think you can handle everything yourself. And while it's likely that you can, at what expense to your own health and welfare?
- The National Council on Aging provides a website where you can learn about benefits for which you and the care recipient may be eligible. These benefits range from assistance paying for food to assistance with prescription care costs.
Best Online Resources to Care for the Caregiver
Family caregivers today may be isolated physically in the home, but the Internet offers many resources. The Area Office on Aging for your location may be found at the Eldercare Locator site. Both the AAA and Eldercare Locator offer useful and helpful information for the caregiver and about available services for the care recipient.
- The Family Caregiver Alliance provides a wealth of information for caregivers and also is a voice in the community in support of family caregiving.
- Another national organization is the National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA). At the NFCA site, there is a page dedicated to aiding caregivers in connecting with each other in a variety of methods. Both of these organizations provide information, support and advocacy for family caregivers.
- The Caregiver Action Network provides a monthly newsletter, Take Care!, in your email on topics of interest to caregivers. For example, the February 2013 newsletter has the most updated information on Alzheimer's disease. Click on this link to be added to the online mailing list.
- Family Caregiving 101 is a website dedicated to empowering the family caregiver with needed information. This site is a joint effort of NFCA and the National Alliance for Caregiving. It's a great place to begin your search for information and available resources.
- The National Alliance for Caregiving also offers a comprehensive site for family caregivers seeking information and advocates for caregivers throughout the country.
- Medicare.gov provides information about Medicare coverage, health information, find various types of health care providers and learn how to get help with costs, among other information.
- AARP is the website of the national organization whose members are age 55 years-of-age and older. You can find information on a variety of topics, some related specifically to caregivers and others related to just about every segment of life.
- Caregivers' Resources is a website provided by the U.S. government that is fully searchable for answers to many of your care giving questions and concerns.
Hone Your Computer Skills
The fastest growing population segment making use of the Internet for social networking are baby boomers and senior adults. You may or may not be interested in social networking, but there is much useful information and advice that you will have access to if you learn some computer and internet basics.
Public libraries, colleges and universities and even adult education classes abound for those wanting to refresh old skills or learn new skills on the computer. One thing is for certain, with Internet access and use, you will never be truly isolated, even if you must remain in the home to provide caregiving.