Tips for Family Caregivers
Ways to lower costs and manage your life sensibly when you decide to care for an elderly person in your home.
According to AARP, 42 million of us will care for a loved one while holding down a job.1 It’s stressful on the caregiver who’s pulled in lots of different directions at once: Take care of Mom. Take care of that big presentation at work.
Even when caregivers devote their full time to caring for a loved one, that loved one can cost more than $5,000 annually, straining the family budget.2
If you’re caring for an aging parent, you know the strain it can place on the entire family emotionally and financially. Finding ways to lower costs and manage your life sensibly is a positive remedy for the stress caused by a special-needs resident who needs eldercare.
Are there things you can do to ease the burden, maybe spread it around a little so every task doesn’t land in your lap? Take comfort in knowing that you aren’t alone, and there are helpful resources available online and in many communities.
Here are some tips to bring balance to your life when caring for a beloved family member.
Plan ahead. If you expect to someday take care of an aging parent, start preparing for that contingency as early as possible. Open a savings account well in advance of Dad moving in, to help offset some of those expenses that fall on families when caring for a loved one.
Open lines of communication. Aging and requiring care aren’t topics that are easy to discuss. However, transparency between caregiver and loved ones is essential to a well-balanced home life for all. Expect some resistance on the part of aging parents who don’t want to be a “burden” to their families.
Are there limits to what care you can and cannot provide? How will you overcome obstacles of time and finances management? What resources do senior family members have? Do they have assets that can be used to handle some of the stress by hiring professionals to care for parents while you handle your career?
Share caregiving with all family members. A sibling can sit with Mom a few days a week. Your teen-aged driver can pick up a few necessities at the local pharmacy. One spouse can handle dinner while the other relaxes after a long tiring day. Every family member can pitch in and provide help. Organize caregiving needs and assign duties to each relative, teaching what family is really all about.
Contact community resources. Senior care agencies can help with many services to take the pressure off of you. Meals brought in during the day. A visit from a health care professional to check blood pressure at home. Does your patient need a lift to the doctor’s office? Learn more about senior services in Nevada that can help eliminate some of the day-to-day strain. A good place to start is the website for the Aging and Disability Services Division of the Nevada Department of Health & Human Services: http://adsd.nv.gov/Programs/Seniors/Seniors/
Take advantage of technology. This is especially useful when the caregiver and patient live apart, but it also works if a parent is living in your home. Get a medical alert device that a parent can use to summon help when you can’t be there. Add a “nanny-cam” to keep an eye on that senior at home alone. Hire a home care assistant to visit regularly and report in to you on the condition of a distant loved one.
Maintain a journal of all conversations with medical professionals, family member reports and other useful information. Make sure you have the names and contact information for all medical personnel tending to your loved one’s needs.
Take care of your own mental health. There are local support groups for caregivers to discuss their feelings and to discover solutions to common problems that come up when caring for a loved one.
Take advantage of online resources. AARP offers invaluable information on taking care of a loved one while taking care of yourself and the family.
Utilize family, community and online resources to find the services that make it easier to care for an aging loved one.
You aren’t alone. There’s lots of helpful support. Make use of the resources you have to improve life for the entire family.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC