Choosing to provide care for an aging loved one is a monumental decision that is sure to bring on a great deal of change to you and your family. Today, more than 40 million Americans provide care to an elderly parent or family member, and long-term caregiving can take a toll on a caregiver’s physical and emotional health and become a burden on the family finances.
Before jumping right into your new role, consider the responsibilities that come with the job and whether you have the capacity to fulfill them. Once you’ve decided to move forward with providing care, don’t be afraid to reach out to professionals and other caregivers for guidance and assistance:
Bringing an aging family member into your home will undoubtedly come with some expected and unexpected financial responsibilities. We strongly suggest consulting a financial advisor, an elder law attorney, and even a tax professional as you morph into your new role as caregiver. Not only will these people be able to ensure that you are financially able to provide care, but they will also help you sort through the finances of your loved one as well as their wishes surrounding long-term care and end-of-life planning documents.
Studies show that most caregivers are ill-prepared to take on this role and don’t know where to turn to for support. As a result, 70% of caregivers exhibit signs of depression, 11% experience a decline in their physical health, and more than half report worse eating and exercise habits after becoming caregivers. Caregivers must make connections and feel supported by others in similar situations. Search through your local senior centers, libraries, and elder care services for in-person support groups. If you don’t have the time to attend meetings, many online support groups are free to join. Caregiving.com and Family Caregiving Alliance are excellent resources to check out.
In-Home Care Services
Maybe you’re continuing to work while providing care to a loved one, still have children living at home, or you’re simply feeling stressed and overwhelmed with your role as caregiver. No matter the situation, hiring in-home care will relieve some of the burdens and help put your mind at ease. There are several different types of in-home care services available to be tailored to your family’s specific needs. Professional caregivers, including nurses, aides, and therapists, will come into your home and help with tasks such as daily hygiene habits, medication management, physical and mental engagement. Before hiring in-home care services, consider the cost and whether you’ll be expected to pay out of pocket or if assistance can be covered by long-term care insurance, Medicaid, or other sources such as veterans’ benefits.
Senior Living Communities
If providing care in your home gets too complicated and is no longer beneficial to your loved one, consider looking into a senior living community. These communities aim to provide seniors with the highest quality of care alongside programming that is engaging and tailored to your loved one’s interests and personal needs. Social opportunities, nutritious meals, exercise classes, and mental, physical, and emotional care are provided daily, and you can rest assured that your loved one is safe and happy.