Do you often feel like a broken record, repeating the same questions over and over again: “When are you going to change your will?” “When do you plan on getting handicapped license plates?” “When are you going to sell that big house and come live with us?”
Support Groups can provide great comfort to family caregivers but finding the right one for you depends on many factors. Here are some things to think about when looking for a group.
What makes a support group successful?
- A safe haven for sharing true feelings
- A place to make new friends
- Information about resources and coping mechanisms
- Advice on what lies ahead
- Help in dealing with family members
Why are support groups so important?
You may want to accompany your care recipient to doctor’s appointments. This way, you and your care recipient can work together as members of the health care team and ensure that you both understand the recommended medical course of action. This is an especially important role if your care recipient is cognitively impaired.
Here is a checklist to help you make the most of your doctor’s visit:
Doctor's Office Visit Checklist
Before the Visit
The single most important thing you can do to function effectively as a caregiver is to create and maintain a comprehensive file of information about the person you are caring for. There is a variety of ways to create and maintain a patient file. Some people prefer paper, some electronic, some a combination of both. You can keep this information in any form that works best for you, although most people simply put it in a binder or folder. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to work for you.
More and more, family caregivers are facing the challenge of caring from afar. This is a result of more and more elderly persons wanting to “age in place” in their homes while their grown children live elsewhere. Caring from afar can be difficult both logistically and emotionally. The caregiver's role is less "hands-on" and more focused on getting information about available resources, coordinating services, and putting together a "team" of family, friends, and others that can help meet your loved one's needs.
One of the most common problems family caregivers face is trying to juggle their job responsibilities with their caregiving responsibilities. In fact, 60% of family caregivers are employed – and two-thirds have had to make some adjustments in their work-life because of their caregiving role. We know that when family caregivers reach out for assistance, they are better able to take care of themselves and their loved ones while holding onto their jobs. Some caregivers have enough flexibility in their jobs to handle both roles. Some decide to leave the workforce or work part-time.
Not only is caregiving an extremely challenging role, it’s also one that can go on for many years. More than half of our members have been a family caregiver for more than 5 years. Long-term caregiving presents its own set of very real concerns. Wondering how much longer you can handle the situation. Worrying about having enough money. Handling heavier caregiving burdens as your loved one’s condition worsens and you get older. These resources are tailored to help the long-term family caregiver.
Maybe it started slowly. You visited your parents and started to worry about them living alone. You found yourself taking over more of the responsibilities for your spouse. Maybe it happened all of a sudden. Mom slipped and broke her hip. The neighbors called to say that dad was wandering around looking lost. However it began, you are now a family caregiver. And you are not alone – there are 65 million family caregivers across the country. Nearly one-third of the U.S.
Caregiver Action Network (CAN) is the nation’s leading family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for the more than 90 million Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age. CAN serves a broad spectrum of family caregivers ranging from the parents of children with special needs, to the families and friends of wounded soldiers; from a young couple dealing with a diagnosis of MS, to adult children caring for parents with Alzheimer’s disease.