By Megan Staley, EI blogger
Many of us, at one point or another, will be responsible for the health and well-being for another human. 80% of the care given to people over the age of 65 in the US is provided by family members. This is a big, looming, responsibility; you are virtually navigating a life or death situation for an extended period of time. You also inadvertently take on a new identity; a new role with new expectations, privileges, and disadvantages. A child must effectively become their parent’s parent. Spouses, although vowing to stand by in sickness and in health, often find it difficult to transition from lover to caregiver. Whenever a family member, be it parent, spouse, or child, becomes unable to fill the roll they had been filling, a shift has to happen; someone has to clean the gutters and pay the bills. Stress of this magnitude, especially for the lengthy amounts of time caring for someone often demands, can and will take a toll on you, your charge, and the other people around you. Luckily, there are many resources available to anyone living as a caregiver. Here are just a few:
1. The Pennsylvania Caregiver Support Program - This program offers relief of “caregiver burden” by providing reimbursements for a selection of assistive devices and other out-of-pocket expenses. For more information or to apply, visit your local Area Agency on Aging or the Pennsylvania Department of Aging website.
2. The National Alliance for Caregiving (http://www.caregiving.org/) - This is a hub of information and resources based on up-to-the-month caregiver research. Follow this link for a great article and video on caregiver health featuring Queen Latifah and her mom.
3. https://www.caring.com/ - An online resource offering health and wellness tips, information on every level of care, as well as support group forums.
These resources will provide more help than you can imagine. You are certainly not alone in the caregiving experience. Visit your local Area Agency on Aging for any support groups that meet in your community. Many long term care facilities and adult day care centers also offer caregiver support groups. Finally, if you feel as though you are not able to provide the best care possible to your loved one while maintaining your own wellness, both physically and mentally, don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.