According to this National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, 43.5 million people in the US provided care for an elderly, disabled, or chronically ill friend or family member in 2015. Being in a position to offer care to someone else is a special privilege.
Supporting a person you love in a time of need fosters a certain closeness and cultivates a feeling of personal satisfaction. Psychologists refer to these feelings are ‘caregiver gain.’
It is also true that there is a huge burden associated with being a caregiver. So it’s important that when someone chooses to become a caregiver, they should make sure that they’re also taken care of.
This idea is analogous to the advice flight attendant receive during training: In case of an emergency, wear your oxygen mask first before you start helping passengers. Making sure your needs are met improves your effectiveness in meeting the needs of your loved one.
It’s perfectly understandable to feel like no else can give your loved one the same care that you do. However, the best way to think about it is that there are people who are qualified to offer you great relief. If you’re unable to find adequate support from within your family, you can seek outside support.
Here are some suggestions.
- Get respite care. Respite care offers temporary relief of a few hours to a number of weeks to a caregiver. You can find these services through short-term stay facilities, adult day health services, and in-home care agencies.
- Use workplace policies to your advantage. Look into the Employee Assistance Program of your company to find out if there are policies are aimed at helping caregivers.
- Check with Medicare or your insurance provider. Depending on the terms of your policy, you might be eligible for coverage of the cost of caregiving services such as home health aid.
- Outsource non-essential tasks. You can have your groceries and pharmaceuticals delivered to your home for a reasonable fee. You can also outsource routine services such as laundry.
- Work with your community. Some religious organizations have volunteers who can assist locals in their caregiving needs. Your local high schools may have students who are required to complete a specified number of hours doing community service. You can get a list of reliable students from school officials.
- Seek financial grants. Your finances can take a major hit as a result of being a caregiver. The monthly costs associated with taking care of an elderly, disabled, or chronically ill person can pile up. Even in cases where the person receiving care has financial resources, the hours you put into being a carefully may have a huge impact on your work hours. The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) gives states grants to help support informal and family caregivers.
As you offer care to your loved ones, make sure that you take steps to care for yourself as well. Only when your needs are met can be the best caregiver you can to others.