Tips and Resources for New Caregivers
Are you a caregiver to a loved one?
If you are, you are one of over 65 million caregivers that care for an adult child, parent or older family member.* Caregiving can be a tough job. It can be rewarding, too.
Some people become instant caregivers overnight if their loved one has had an accident or stroke. Other people may lend a hand once in a while, only to have their loved one’s condition get worse. The amount of time these caregivers give may increase gradually from a few hours a month to providing care on a full time basis.
The level of caregiving responsibilities will depend on your loved one’s health condition. People who need assistance with mobility only may require less help than someone with mobility and cognitive impairments.
Here Are a Few Tips That May Help Make Caretaking a Little Less Overwhelming.
- Take time for some respite care — for yourself. Many caregivers don’t take time for themselves. Some people feel guilty for leaving their loved ones. If you keep going without a break, you’ll wear yourself out. That won’t be good for yourself or your loved one.
- Find a support group for yourself and your loved one. A hospital or rehab treatment facility can help you find support groups and other resources in your community.
- Take advantage of professional adult day care or home care services.
- If your loved one has been in the hospital, before he or she comes home, arrange to have an occupational therapist visit your home to suggest changes that will help make everyday living easier. Some modifications may be simple, like attaching grab bars to the bathroom walls or buying an elevated toilet seat. Larger modifications may include having to widen a doorway or adding a wheelchair ramp at the front door.
According to Administration for Community Living Organization, in FY 2010, the most recent year for which service data is available, over 700,000 caregivers received services through the National Family Caregiver Support Program.** These services helped the caregiver better manage their responsibilities while ensuring their loved ones remained in the community for as long as possible. Eighty nine (89) percent of caregivers reported that services helped them to be a better caregiver.**
Service highlights include:
- Access Assistance Services provided over 1 million contacts to caregivers helping them locate services from a variety of private and voluntary agencies.
- Counseling and Training Services were provided to over 125,000 caregivers with counseling, peer support groups, and training to help them better cope with the stresses of caregiving.
- Respite Care Services were provided to more than 64,000 caregivers with 6.8 million hours of temporary relief – at home, or in an adult day care or institutional setting – from their caregiving responsibilities.
Helpful Caregiver Resources
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregivers Center: Caregivers for Alzheimer’s and Dementia face special challenges.
ALS Association: Help for people providing care to loved ones with ALS.
ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center: Asking for help is a sign of strength. Get help locating respite resources in your community.
Caregiver Action Network: Ask or give advice from other caregivers.
National Stroke Association: Recovery, resources, support groups and caregiver care.
Family Caregiver Alliance: Supports and sustains the important work of families nationwide caring for loved ones with chronic, disabling health conditions.