Are you a family caregiver? Here’s where you can find help and support.November 15, 2020
With longer life expectancies and advancements in medical treatment, an increasing number of adults are becoming caregivers for an aging parent, a spouse with chronic illness, or a child with special needs. Being a caregiver is an important role, but it can be challenging. With the right support, you can provide care for a family member or loved one in a way that is rewarding and fulfilling for both of you.
Whether you are new to caregiving or have been taking care of a loved one for some time, it’s important to find caregiver support. No one can do this job alone. Many family caregivers find themselves in stressful situations, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. If you don’t find help and support, you can easily burnout and give into compassion fatigue, in which your compassion for others can become stressed from overexertion of your mental, physical, and emotional capacity without recharging yourself.
Resources for Family Caregivers
There are many organizations and resources available to help caregivers find the training, support and help that they need to stay centered and healthy while providing compassionate care:
AARP provides “Resources Caregivers Should Know” including where to find services and support for family caregiving. They offer links for Information, services and support; Alzheimer’s and dementia; Cancer; Hospice and palliative care; In-home care; Legal and financial help; Long-term care; Military caregivers; and Respite care.
They also developed a free downloadable guide called Prepare to Care: A Resource Guide for Families to help make the job more manageable. It includes information on how to have vital conversations with older family members, organize important documents, assess your loved one’s needs and locate important resources. To request a free hardcopy of the guide, call 1-877-333-5885, select option 1 and request the Prepare to Care: A Planning Guide for Families, item number D20152. Additional AARP Care Guides provide help for first time caregivers and long-distance caregivers, caring for a loved one with dementia or cancer and providing care at home. For additional information on caregiving, the AARP online community has many helpful tips and articles.
In Massachusetts, Mass.gov offers the Family Caregiver Support Program, a free program to help you care for a member of your family wherever your loved one lives. A Caregiver Specialist will create a plan and give you tips and support. The government website also provides caregiver help and information on topics such as, technology for caregivers, caring for someone with dementia, hiring in-home help, you are not alone in caregiving, and more.
MIT offers The Family Caregiver Handbook, including a section on Caregiver Support. It provides information on finding resources and training for caregivers; respite services; support groups and self-care; flexible work arrangements and leave options; support from faith-based organizations; support based on specific illness or conditions; as well as Massachusetts and national organizations with caregiver support.
Comfort Keepers, a provider of quality in-home senior care in locations across the country, provides a research study on the effects of caregiving, and they’ve developed a practical guide for facing family caregiver challenges. The guide can be download for free and provides information about compassion fatigue, preparing for care, taking care of yourself as a caregiver, ways to pay for care, and how to prepare for extended time away from your loved one.
The research study, conducted by the Stanford Center on Longevity and the Stanford University Psychology Department, shows that family caregivers need to take care of themselves in order to provide proper care for aging seniors and other loved ones.
HelpGuide, a nonprofit provider of quality health information, offers helpful information on Family Caregiving, including tips, resources, community services and more.
The Family Caregiver Alliance offers online caregiver support groups to provide a safe place to discuss the stresses, challenges, and rewards of providing care for a loved one.
Whatever your level of experience as a caregiver, it’s important to ask for help from family, friends, and faith-based groups, take care of your own wellbeing, educate yourself about your loved one’s condition, and find proper training. We hope these tips and resources will be helpful on your caregiving journey.