Taking care of another person is a responsibility that some find daunting, if not overwhelming. The good news is that millions of people have successfully cared for their aging relatives, and you can benefit from their wisdom. Here are tips for new caregivers:
You Are One Person, Not an Army
Even if you are the only child of an only child with no relatives nearby to help with the caregiving chores, your loved one may have friends or neighbors who would be happy to take an occasional shift. It may involve nothing more than just sitting with her for a few hours and keeping her company. You can explore whether her house of worship, social club, or other activities provide volunteers who can help. If there are relatives nearby, sit down and have a planning session to distribute the duties equitably.
Who Can Help with Caregiving and Financial Support?
Programs in your area may help with the caregiving workload. Here are groups to contact for local services:
- Your town’s community center. Many of these facilities hold regular elder activities and provide respite care to give you a break.
- Local office on aging. This government agency, which may have a different name where you live, coordinates and offers services for the elderly. Some programs are free, while others are on a sliding fee scale. Tap into all the social services agencies that provide the help your loved one needs. In some states, you can be paid to serve as your loved one’s caregiver.
- Organizations. The library, YMCA, AARP, churches, and other organizations may either provide services or link you up with programs.
- Social Security office. Go to your local Social Security office to explore programs and funding sources. He might qualify for valuable Medicare, Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits or other programs.
- Veterans Administration (VA). If you or your loved one served in the military, the VA might provide services or funding.
Take Care of Yourself
Caregiver burnout happens frequently, particularly if you are trying to work and serve as a caregiver. Getting others on board to help is essential for avoiding burnout. It is easy to say you should take care of yourself first. However, that advice is hard to actually practice. Sometimes, the best you can do is try to arrange a few days a month in which you are off-duty, or two hours now and then.
Make Your Loved One Part of the Process
Have frequent check-ins with him to see how he feels about his care and whether he would like to make changes. He might have been adamant about staying at home initially, but he might not want to hurt your feelings by telling you he changed his mind and would like to go to an assisted living center. Always include him in the discussions and decisions.
The laws of every state are different, so your state’s regulations might vary from the general law discussed in this article. Talk with an elder law attorney near you.
HuffPost. “Preparing To Become a Caregiver.” (accessed April 4, 2018) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/preparing-to-become-a-car_b_11933044.html
A Place for Mom. “Exceptional Caregivers Share Their Tips.” (accessed April 5, 2018) https://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/3-06-17-exceptional-caregivers-share-tips/