What Do Caregivers Need Most?

By Marilyn Lewis

Caregivers need a break and they need support. Here are 9 sources for help community, respite care, information and inspiration.

Caregiving is a burnout job, no question about it. If you are a family caregiver, no one needs to tell you about it. Family caregivers need a break. Their mostly unpaid work with elderly, ill or disabled adults was worth about $470 billion a year at last count –equal to half of what the federal government spends for Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act combined. And yet, difficult as it is, the job also is a source of rich satisfaction for many.

Here’s where to find the help you need:

  • AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center is full of articles, advice and information, including guidance on how to develop a respite plan.
  • You can’t do it alone. LotsaHelpingHands helps you create your own care-giving community online. It is free, private and secure. Features include private message boards, a shared online calendar for coordinating care and managing donations of meals, respite care and other assistance.
  • Care-givers.com offers a variety of features, from message boards and articles to a healing prayer circle and much more.
  • The Family Caregiver Alliance lists resources for caregivers in every state. Click your state on the map.
  • Eldercare.gov links caregivers to local services, from adult day programs to transportation assistance. Questions? Use the online chat or call 800-677-1116.
  • WebMD links to good advice about what support for caregivers is covered by Medicare.
  • The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving has a rich list of caregiver resources.

Respite care

Caregivers need regular rest to recharge and take care of themselves. But getting someone to spell you can be difficult.

  • The National Volunteer Caregiving Network (a project of the interfaith Faith in Action organization) offers caregiving and respite care in many communities. Look for services near you by filling out the online form or using the map farther down the page.
  • The National Respite Locator lists respite services in your local area and state. Or call 1-800-473-1727.

Reading

What do caregivers need most? Sometimes it’s a dose of dark humor. Find it at The Caregiver’s Guide to Sainthood, at The New Yorker. Sometimes it’s inspiration. In this letter to his younger, more-innocent self, a husband says, “Just know it goes from bad to worse, and life isn’t fair, but this is the big test of your love and strength.”

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