Caregiving may be one of the most important roles you will undertake in your lifetime. Typically it is not an easy role, nor is it one for which most of us are prepared. Like most people, you may have questions about your care receiver's chronic illness or disability. If you have a job and are juggling several responsibilities or if your family member or friend needs a lot of assistance, you may need help with caregiving, too. Whether you are expecting to become a caregiver or have been thrust into the role overnight, it is useful to know where you can get information and help.
Individuals Who Can Help You Find Assistance
There are information services with staff who can help you figure out whether and what kinds of assistance you and your care receiver may need.
You can call:
- The National Eldercare Locator, a toll-free service funded by the Administration on Aging (AoA), at 800-677-1116 for information about assistance that is available in communities across the nation.
- Your State Agency on Aging (SUA) for information and assistance. Look in your phone book under "aging" or "senior services."
- Your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) for information and assistance right in your community. Look in your phone book under ·aging· or ·senior services.·
Generally, state and area agency on aging services are funded with federal, state, and other monies. These government-funded services are often targeted to those most in need. While there are no income criteria for many services, sometimes, you may have more service options, if you can pay for private help. You can contact your State or Area Agency on Aging for information and assistance.
There are several services that can help you plan for the care that will be needed. They can be accessed through the state or area agency:
- Care management services: a care manager can assess your relative's needs and resources and draw up a plan to help her remain as healthy and independent as possible.
- Social work services: hospitals and nursing homes usually have social workers and discharge planners.
- Attorneys, who specialize in such areas as wills, trusts, and probate, and financial planners can help with the legal and financial aspects of caregiving
Supportive services for the person needing care can include:
- Personal care
(See the section on "What Services Can Help Us?" for information on supportive services.)
Other types of resources for caregivers are:
- Caregiver support groups
- Caregiver organizations
- Organizations like the Alzheimers Association
- Chat rooms on caregiving on the Internet
- Family members and friends who have been caregivers
And don't forget, if you are an employee covered under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, you are entitled to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave during any one year to care for an older relative.
Additional Resources and Reading Lists
Federal Government Web Sites
Two web sites provide information on a range of topics related to health and aging as well as links to other health-related sites:
National Organization Web Sites
Sourced from "Because We Care: A Guide For People Who Care", published by the United States Administration on Aging.
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