According to the National Alliance for Caregiving their are an estimated 65.7 million Americans who provide care for an older adult, or someone living with disability or illness. Rick Greene an executive adviser for the National Alliance for Caregiving says “Caregivers often ignore their own health”. This leads to almost one-third of all caregivers describing their own health as fair to poor, suffering from depression, and are much more likely to become physically ill.
Numerous research has that caregiver’s “high strain” are at a greatly increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and early death. Bankrate.com has collected a number of fantastic and FREE ways to help caregivers reduce stress so they can stay healthy and happy.
Caregivers have a number of local and state resources available through the Eldercare Locator and their Local Area Agency on Aging by simply calling 1-800-677-1116. These agencies can provide services such as caregiver education and training, counseling, support groups, and even emergency assistance.
There are also a number of nonprofit caregiving resources available as well:
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also provides a number of Caregiver Support Programs for caregivers of veterans. They can access there services online here, or reach out to a caregiver support specialist at their local VA medical center
When a caregiver needs to recover after sickness, take a needed vacation, or have other obligations they have to hire respite care. Respite care provides short-term caregiving to relieve the normal caregiver. Respite caregiving’s costs are very high.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program provides federal funds to state Area Agencies on Aging to help caregivers better manage their responsibilities to keep their loved ones at home, including covering the cost of respite. To receive funding, caregivers have to be 18 or older, cannot be paid by the patient, and have to be providing care to a loved one age 60 or older, or any age if their loved suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or related disorder. The level of respite care ranges from a few hours at an adult day care center to several days in an approved facility. Medicare, medicaid, and VA patients have a variety of different respite care options available annually.
With many respite program’s funding limited, the ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center and the Family Caregiver Alliance offer online searches for local respite provides and additional funding.
Universities are another alternative for low-cost volunteer respite care. Campus groups typically require volunteer services. There are also a number of support organizations like the Well Spouse Association, that can offer respite services to their members. The Well Spouse Association for example, offers weekend respite retreats with other spousal caregivers, that only require a $30 annual membership.
Many people offer caregiving assistance in passing, “Let us know what we can do to help”, but many people will decline to avoid becoming a burden. When you should take their offer and refer to your list of top 100 needs. Collect and organize your top 100 tasks or chores and keep it nearby.
This list does not need to be a lengthy legal pad, but can be a convenient mobile application. LotsaHelpingHands.com, offered through a number of nonprofit health organizations, help primary caregivers divide their monthly duties. There are also a couple of similar applications: CareZone and Unfrazzle available to coordinate changing caregiving scheduling.
Check with local hospitals and medical groups to find discounted heath classes and seminars designed for caregivers. Many local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association provide free events that caregivers can attend together. The caregivers must relax and take a break. It can be as simple as a walk in the park, reading a book, or simply laughing.
Many caregivers have little or no experience at the beginning. It can make the transition much easier if you get some training and create a simple care plan to know what to expect and what will make you and your patient’s life easier.
Local area agencies on aging, caregiving club chapters, and nonprofit associations offer free training classes. For example the 6-week program, “Powerful Tools for Caregivers”, by the national Alliance for Caregiving “teaches caregivers how best to take care of themselves. The more information that caregivers have, the better able they are to manage their stress about caregiving” Eskenazi says.
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