Giving Care, When You Need It Too
When Jeanette’s mother was hospitalized, Jeanette’s father begged her, with tears in his eyes, to take care of mother if he ever couldn’t. Of course Jeanette said “yes.”
Years later, when Jeanette’s father had gone and mother’s hearing and eyesight failed, she could no longer drive, and she had fallen several times, Jeanette remembered that promise.
Jeanette’s first step in keeping that promise is to make sure that if mother hasn’t already done so, she should visit us, your friendly elder-law counselors. We will check to see that mother has done the financial planning and powers of attorney that every adult needs, especially older adults, particularly those in mother’s situation.
As Jeanette keeps her promise, she will join a community of millions who are taking care of aging parents. The challenge is enormous. Caregivers can feel the loss of freedom keenly. Family emotional issues, left unaddressed for years, may re-emerge. Jeanette might be spending money she’s not sure she has. She can’t sleep for worry. She is wrestling with the demands of caregiving, at the same time she’s striving to meet commitments to her own family and workplace. Her or another family member’s health can act up. Time off from work is harder and harder to come by, yet she may face daily demands and frequent emergencies.
The great numbers of people in Jeanette’s situation pose a substantial public-health issue. Congress has recently passed the RAISE Family Caregivers Act,
to establish a national strategy to provide assistance to so many of us.
It’s very important that caregivers also take care of themselves. Time-honored flight attendants’ advice is good here, too: Put on your own oxygen mask first. For advice on self-care and how to manage caregiver stress, visit the Mayo Clinic website, here.
Then, take full advantage of the numerous resources listed below. Remember:
Keep the home fires burning
– but don’t you burn out yourself.
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Area Agencies on Aging
This is a national association of nonprofit agencies serving as a clearinghouse for information on public long-term support and benefits. Services include elder transportation, emergency assistance, respite care (temporary supervision of the elder to provide rest for the caregiver), individual counseling and support groups, and caregiver education classes and training.
Caregiver Action Network
This website provides advice organized by the stage of the process the caregiver is in, helpful care checklists, and advice on cost management and juggling work and family obligations with caregiving responsibilities.
Here find podcasts, a story-telling project, a directory of caregiving consultants, an extensive free webinar library covering numerous topics including “decision fatigue,” plain old fatigue, boundary-setting, respite care, and many others.