Many people who are caring for a family member or friend believe that they are the only ones who have ever gone through this experience. While every caregiving situation is unique, the act of caregiving is common indeed. For those who feel isolated and frustrated, the good news is that there are some services to support caregivers in every community in the United States.
The WellMed Charitable Foundation offers the Caregiver Teleconnection, a monthly calendar of simple conference calls featuring experts who are lawyers, doctors, social workers, Alzheimer’s specialists, financial counselors, etc. Caregivers can call in anonymously. They can be sitting at home in their pajamas with their hair sticking straight up – and still participate in the discussion.
All at no cost. It is the best thing since sliced bread with less calories. The monthly calendar of Caregiver Teleconnection calls can be found at caregiversos.org or through our customer service line answered by a real person at 866-390-6491.
Caregivers also often don’t know what questions they want to ask. For those who wish to explore what is available in their community, the National Family Caregiver Program through the local area agencies on aging offers a variety of services and supports throughout the entire United States. Some areas may only have information and referral services and perhaps some support groups, but others offer respite, legal services, minor home repair, and more. Using just a zip code, services available in any community can be found through the Administration on Community Living at eldercare.acl.gov.
For those caregivers who have located a list of services in their community, it is time to figure out how everything works. Some services are available at no cost. To be eligible, there may be requirements of age or income. There may be sliding scale fees for people who have at least some ability to pay. Some services are private pay only. Services may also lack capacity to add new customers and will have a waiting list. If a caregiver finds the services that are affordable and available, they still may not be acceptable for a variety of reasons such as finding a direct care worker that is a good fit for the person receiving care.
The last piece of the service puzzle is if the person who is receiving the care will actually use the services. Will they allow direct care workers in their home. Will they ride a bus to adult day care? Will they eat the home-delivered meal? And will they move to the assisted living facility?
Even with an abundance of resources, caring for someone is still a challenge and a reward. Our wish list for any caregiver is that they know they are not alone and reach out for the support that is there for them.
WellMed Charitable Foundation Executive Director Carol Zernial is a noted gerontologist, radio show host, and emeritus Chair of the National Council on Aging. The non-profit WellMed Charitable Foundation focuses on complimentary programs impacting seniors and family caregivers, including weekly telephone learning sessions, evidence-based classes on stress reduction and more. Find out more at www.CaregiverSOS.org or toll-free at 1-866-390-6491.
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