There are almost 44 million caregivers working unpaid in the long-term and chronic care system in the United States, nearly three-quarters of whom are caring for people 50 years of age and older.
With the increasing numbers of aging Americans from the Baby Boomer era comes increasing numbers of people in need of care and family members providing that care.
Most people thrust into caregiving for an elderly parent have no prior experience in providing such care. Most caregivers are, therefore, beginners at caregiving and may feel ill-suited for the task. That is why numerous groups and organizations have sprouted up to support this growing “amateur” caregiver community in providing the best possible care to their loved one while ensuring their own care is maintained as well.
The National Alliance for Caregiving works in partnership with an abundance of caregiving resources serving all sorts of challenges and needs facing children taking care of elderly parents. In addition to general caregiver resources, are those specifically tailored to caregivers of people with one of the types of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, disabilities or cancer.
The top online information and support hub for family caregivers, Caring.com provides expert advice, community support and a thorough eldercare services directory, among other features. Expert advice is provided by over 50 leaders in housing, finance, law and geriatric medicine, among other relevant specialties. Research findings on aging are also published on their website as they are released.
A public service provided by the U.S. Administration on Aging, the Eldercare Locator is an information hub that helps aging people find appropriate resources in their local community. The Eldercare Locator is available for phone and online.
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Most of the resources provided are aimed at empowering aging individuals to continue to live independently and include links to local and state agencies and community-based groups.
Through the National Center on Caregiving (NCC), the Family Caregiver Alliance helps foster the development of programs and policies to help facilitate family caregivers in providing effective care. The Alliance performs these functions through a combination of services, public policy and research efforts. It also acts as a central information hub for family caregivers as well as funders, media, service providers and policymakers on issues of long-term care and general caregiving.
Becoming a caregiver for an aging parent can have a significant impact on your own life and your ability to care for yourself and your family and plan for your own care as you age. To help navigate these concerns, the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER) offers information relevant for people making the decision to become caregivers for their aging parents, including preparing for both short-term financial sustainability and long-term security.
Through Lotsa Helping Hands, a caregiver can coordinate the efforts of other friends, loved ones and local care providers in the overall care of a particular individual. Lotsa Helping Hands offers a convenient online calendar system that caregivers can use to post tasks involved in an aging parent’s care for which assistance is needed. Others in the community can then view the calendar and sign up to provide the assistance needed.
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The primary caregiver can then print out a summary report that shows which people have volunteered to help with which tasks, such as senior medical checkups. The service even provides reminder emails and notifications to help ensure the people who signed up to help with a task actually show up to fulfill their promise.
Started in 2000, the NFCSP gives grants to U.S. Territories and States according to their respective proportion of people in the population 70 years of age and older. These grants are intended to fund various support systems for caregivers, including those caring for aging family members. The support systems particularly funded by these grants are those that help caregivers to continue providing care for their aging loved one at home instead of a facility for as long as possible.
The NTOCC helps caregivers to coordinate effective communication between all the parties involved in an aging parent’s care, including social workers, doctors and nurses. The resources NTOCC provides can help you to understand the challenges involved in a parent’s transition into care and empowers family caregivers to be an effective part of a parent’s health care team. Among these resources are the following:
Caregivers interested in preparing for the decisions they will have to make down the line in their care of an aging parent can find useful guides provided by Next Step in Care. When a parent has become seriously ill or his or her condition has become chronic, Next Step in Care offers guides and videos like the following:
Next Step in Care also offers a variety of guides and videos on hospital stays and discharge plans, rehabilitation and home care.
The FDA Office of Women’s Health publishes Tips for Caregivers, a website filled with tools to aid caregivers in managing their loved ones’ care. Included on the website are tips on providing care for older adults in particular, as well as other groups, like those with special needs. It also provides updates on clinical trials, particularly those involving or impacting women.
Many religious affiliations offer senior programs as well as caregiver respite programs through their places of worship. A good way to locate one in your area is to call local religious groups and inquire or ask your local physician for the names of local groups who assist caregivers with aging parents. The national group, AARP also offers an extensive resource and support network for caregivers taking care of elderly parents or relatives.
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