Caring for an elderly parent or someone with Alzheimer's or Dementia can be an incredibly taxing operation.

Smiling Caregiver with elderly patient

Here are 10 tips for caregivers we hope makes this process a little easier.

  1. Ask for support from other caregivers. Learning that others have had or are in similar experiences can be an enormous relief.
    1. An easy way to find support from other caregivers is to join a caregiver support group near you or virtually. Support groups are offered for a variety of conditions as well as for different types of caregivers. 
  2. The good you can do for your loved one is dependent on how well you take care of your health.
    1. As tempting as it may be, don’t skip out on your own appointments. If you do not already have someone you can go to for relieving you while you attend your appointments, the Family Caregiver Alliance has a resource for locating respite caregivers near you
    2. It’s important to move your body every day and give your body the nutritional fuel it needs so that you can continue providing care for your loved one. This can be as simple as taking a 30-minute walk and making sure you are getting your proper servings of protein, fruits, and vegetables each day.
  3. Take some respite time, caregiving is hard work. Everyone needs time to rest and recharge, and this is even truer for caregivers. 
    1. If funding for a respite caregiver is an issue, the Access to Respite Care and Help National Respite Network has compiled a state-by-state resource for funding sources for respite care
  4. If someone offers help, take it. Be specific with suggestions of the things people can do to help you. Accepting help is not a sign of weakness.
  5. Watch out for signs of stress, anger, and frustration in yourself. Ask for help if you think you suffer from depression.
    1. Don’t be afraid to seek therapy services, whether it be in person or virtual. Even if you think you are feeling okay, it can be beneficial just to have someone to talk to and process your feelings with. If you are not sure how to locate a therapist that is within your budget, DailyCaring has compiled a list of ways to locate affordable therapy services
  6. Seek training opportunities and get help from new technologies. It’ll make taking care of your loved one a lot easier.
    1. The EyeOn App alerts people designated as your loved one’s check-in buddies if they fail to check in on their phone after a set period of time. 
    2. Other technology like in-home medication reminders and smart home devices such as Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices can also provide assistance. 
  7. Organize medical information so it can be updated when needed and easy to access.
    1. You can utilize physical storage methods like a 3-ring binder or digital storage methods like a USB flash drive or an online e-health tool. 
    2. It can be helpful to organize the records by date or by categories, such as doctor's appointments, tests, medications, etc.
  8. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors so you can better advocate for your loved one. 
    1. When possible, it helps if your loved one has signed a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization naming you as someone their medical professionals can share information with. This helps prevent any possible “silent treatment” from medical providers.
    2. If your loved one is in the hospital, it can be a good idea to establish a time you will check in with them for any updates so that everyone is on the same page.
  9. Plan early for the present and future needs of your loved one. An Elder Law attorney experienced in long-term care planning can help you.
    1. Medicare does not pay for chronic care and long-term care, so if you were anticipating Medicare covering those services if they are needed down the road, you will need to establish a long-term care plan that does not rely on Medicare.
    2. Medicaid usually pays for long-term care, but Medicaid is a need-based program, so your loved one would have to qualify financially in addition to qualifying medically. 
    3. Medicaid has a “look back” period of 5 years for its financial eligibility, so it is important to have an Elder Law attorney experienced in long-term care planning to assess your loved one’s case and develop a long-term care plan that will leave you without a large financial burden. 
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!

If you would like to discuss long-term care planning for your family member or yourself, check out our free guide, Hope for Caregivers: ABCs of Long-Term Care and Legal Planning, and contact us at Carolina Family Estate Planning at 919-443-3035 in Cary, North Carolina, to begin the long-term care planning process today. 

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