Survival tips for Caregivers
The elderly are increasingly looking to their families to provide care for their needs. Unfortunately, as the growth of the elderly population outpaces the younger generation, there are fewer caregivers available to take care of elderly loved ones. This causes significant stress on caregivers as they try to handle the care for a loved one (often on their own) while also managing their own family. The typical family caregiver is a female in her mid to late forties, works full-time, and spends about 20 hours per week providing unpaid care for her mother. Ordinarily, the caregiver incurs about $8,000.00 per year in out of pocket expenses over a period of about five years. Here are some strategies for families to better manage this stressful time:
1. Take a break. You're kidding yourself if you think you can handle this on your own without it negatively affecting your health or your family. Respite programs or adult day care programs can provide a much needed breather. Also, other family members should be expected to help – ideally at their home, without causing a family conflict. Finally, it may be necessary to hire a caregiver on a limited basis.
2. Seek professional help. A gerontologist is often necessary to assess your loved one's needs and provide advice regarding the appropriate level of assistance. Also, an elder law attorney should be consulted regarding the appropriate legal documents such as a durable power of attorney and a patient advocate.
3. Join a support group. A support group can be a wonderful resource and stress reliever for caregivers. Monthly meetings with other caregivers who are facing many of the same struggles can be extremely helpful especially for those caregivers who have just begun caring for a loved one.
4. Figure out the finances. The sooner you understand your loved one’s financial situation the better. As your loved one’s needs increase, it is important to know whether hiring caregivers or an assisted living are viable options. Also, considering other options such as Medicaid or Veterans benefits (if your loved one is a wartime veteran or the spouse of a veteran) is very important. Unfortunately, most people fail to plan ahead and are ill-prepared to help their loved one when they can no longer care for them.
Caring for a loved one is extraordinarily difficult even under the best of circumstances. Don’t assume it will somehow be any different for you – see an experienced elder law attorney today.
This blog post is written by Brett A. Howell, Certified Elder Law Attorney. The blog is written as a service of The Elder and Estate Planning Law Firm, P.L.L.C. This information is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For a consultation to address specific questions, please call (810) 953-3846.