Caring for your aging parents is a huge undertaking. Many Americans are faced with the task of caring for their loved ones as they age. About 53 million Americans care for their parents with 24% of those caregivers caring for more than one person, according to a report from AARP. As the number of caregivers continues to increase in the U.S., caregivers must get the support they need. Fortunately, there plenty of resources for caregivers caring for their aging parents.
So, if you are planning to take care of your parents or are already doing so, here are some of the best resources you can find for caregivers.
Organizations that understand caregiver’s needs
Challenges are likely to arise for caregivers. Partnering with an organization that can help you solve practical problems, eliminate some of your stress, connect you with other caregivers, or help you understand the common problems of an aging parent, may make caring for your aging parent more manageable.
Here are a few organizations that you may want to reach out to.
The Area Agencies on Aging
The Area Agencies on Aging are private or public nonprofit agencies which address the concerns of aging adults. AAA is a general term, so organization names may vary by state or location. The goal of AAA is to offer and coordinate services that help older adults stay in their homes. Some services may include:
- Home meal delivery
- Homemaker assistance
- Legal assistance
- Housing options and more
Independent Transportation Network
Independent Transportation Network (ITN) is a national senior transportation organization that works in 14 communities across 12 states. Whether you live across the country from a loved one or right next door, ITN can help with your transportation needs.
If you need to schedule non-emergency transportation for your aging parent, you can apply through a local affiliate group. If you qualify, you may have to pay a membership fee ($40 annually). You will also have to finance a transportation account which is determined by the estimated usage. While this organization is growing rapidly, the service is relatively new. That said, it’s mostly available in urban areas.
Check out ITN America online or call 888-998-6325 for more information.
The National Council on Aging
Based in Washington D.C., The National Council of Aging is a nonprofit and advocacy group that serves older adults in the U.S. This organization works with many groups to find creative solutions that service aging adults.
To determine what benefits your aging parent may qualify for, you can use the NCOA’s widespread screening tool called BenefitsCheckUp. Additionally, NCOA’s Home Equity Advisor offers tools to educate users are how to protect the value of their home.
For more information visit the National Council on Aging website or call 571-527-3900.
Next Step in Care
Next Step in Care helps family caregivers through healthcare transitions. It is intended for both healthcare providers and family caregivers and helps support the transition in and out of hospital care, long-term care, and rehabilitation programs.
Caregivers are often left out of communications between facilities. With this in mind, Next Step in Care helps smooth the transition process. They provide guides and checklists to caregivers to help you ask the right questions and prepare for the steps in transitions.
Additionally, the Next Step in Care allows you to access their materials via smartphone and download PDFs so that you can keep the materials on hand.
Well Spouse Association
Often, a primary caregiver is the spouse of the person that needs help. Providing care to a spouse can put stress on a relationship. That said, it often leaves the caregiver feeling lonely or unsupported. The Well Spouse Association connects caregivers with others who are in a similar situation. This creates a support network for caregivers.
The organization works to pair caregivers with a mentor who has experienced a similar situation. They also provide a forum and online chat features to help paying members ($30 per year) get access to the support they need while taking care of a loved one.
You can find the Well Spouse Association online or at (732) 577-8899.
Caregiver support for veterans
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a Caregiver Support program that employs professional coordinators who can support the caregivers of U.S. military veterans. The specialists at the VA can help you learn what services you and your parent are eligible for. Some services include adult daycare centers, home-based services, and even telehealth programs.
You can learn more about the programs the VA offers online or by calling (855) 260-3274.
Medicare is the national health insurance system for people over 65 or that have certain disabilities. The website has a plethora of Medicare-related resources and information, which includes a section for caregivers.
The Medicare website provides resources that help people understand the expenses that Medicare covers and includes videos, reading materials, and more. Additionally, caregivers can submit questions that they have and receive personal response with helpful answers.
Books to support the soul and mind of caregivers
As a caregiver, you might find yourself with downtime or spending time with your loved one. In these moments, you can read books by and about other caregivers. This will help you understand how other people deal with their caregiving roles. Here are some of our favorite books for caretakers:
- My Two Elaines: Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer’s Caregiver: For those caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease, this book walks through a caregiver’s struggle. It helps bring forth guidance, humor, and support for caring for your loved one.
- Holding the Net: Caring for My Mother on the Tightrope of Aging: This book gives a practical take on the caregiver’s role. The author’s experiences help the reader gain wisdom on how to overcome challenges and find joy in the process.
- Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Caregivers: 101 Stories of Love, Sacrifice, and Bonding: This book of short, inspirational stories will fill your days with encouraging stories. It also reminds you, you’re not alone in your caregiving journey.
- Who Cares? Give and Take of Family Caregiving: This book was written by a motivational speaker and comedian. It can help you navigate the day-to-day ups and downs with grace and humor.
- A Guide for Caregiving: What’s Next? Planning for Safety, Quality, and Compassionate Care for Your Loved One and Yourself: There’s no perfect guide for how to be a caregiver. However, this book might be the next best thing. This book breaks down the task of caregiving and makes every step of the way seem approachable.
Apps to manage aspects of caring for an aging adult
Caring for an elderly parent or loved one? There’s an app for that.
There are many aspects of caregiving and they can be overwhelming. However, there are tools in the form of apps that can help ease the day to day and support you in case of an emergency. Some of our preferred apps are:
- CaringBridge: The CaringBridge app will help you and your loved ones stay in touch. The app helps to connect families that have a loved one that needs additional care including daily care, surgeries, rehabilitation, or other procedures. The caregiver(s) and family members can use the app to share important information about the person being cared for. The app also has features to share journal entries, medical updates, stories, and more.
- Caring Village: Caring Village is an app that helps caregivers track and coordinate their loved one’s care. Often, when caring duties are split between multiple people, the details can get lost. This app helps to keep track of communication, care plans, to-do items, medications, and more.
- CareZone: CareZone helps caregivers keep all of their loved one’s pertinent information in one place. Users can invite other caretakers to access the information and it has a place for notes and observations as well as a task list and medication logging guide.
- Lotsa Helping Hands: The Lotsa Helping Hands app allows you to create a community of support around you and the person you’re caring for. You can upload contact information, birthdates, and list the best times to call your loved one. Additionally, you can post updates and other valuable information to share with your family.
- Medisafe: Medisafe is the best app we’ve found to help with the stressful task of medication management.
Blogs that provide a community of support for caregivers
If you are looking for a community of writers and readers that are in care-taking roles, then you might want to check out some of these blogs. Many of them have candid stories, tips, and advice for caregivers. This is a shortlist of the many blogs available.
- As Our Parents Age: The creator of this blog shares her experiences surrounding the care of her parents. Over several years, her blog posts provide resources for other caregivers. It also provides links to other blogs and resources that caregivers may find helpful.
- Caregiver Warrior Blog: Sometimes, as caregivers, we find that the day-to-day tasks can be the most cumbersome. This blogger’s father was her mother’s caretaker before he experienced exhaustion, leaving the author to care for both of her parents. Her stories and resources are a wealth of knowledge.
- Take Care: AARP sponsors this blog and is available to both members and the public. It hosts information that is useful for caregivers as well as their families. Some of the posts contain heartwarming or helpful stories, and other blog posts give caregivers lists of resources they can use.
- The Battle We Didn’t Choose: My Wife’s Fight with Breast Cancer: This blog and photo journal is one couple’s experience with cancer. The author gives us an inside look into what it was like to care for someone while balancing his life and communicating with their families. It’s emotional and honest, and a look into this couple’s path.
Easy listening for caregivers who need support on the go
Podcasts are one of the best resources for caregivers available. They can range from interviews and conversations to people telling their stories. You can access podcasts on your smartphone or computer. Simply search for a specific one, or go to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or other apps. Here are a few that were created with caregivers in mind:
- Agewyz: Pronounced, ‘age-wise’, this podcast dedicates each episode to reminding caregivers that they aren’t alone. The show features guests like medical experts, industry professionals, and people who have been in a caregiving role. New episodes come out every week.
- Caregiver SOS: This weekly podcast dives into the issues that caregivers face. The podcast is hosted by the WellMed Charitable Foundation.
- Dave, the Caregiver’s Caregiver: Dave digs into the emotional stress and burnout that comes with being a caregiver. As a best-selling author and longtime caregiver, Dave hosts interviews that focus on how to provide the best quality of life for your loved ones.
- Healing Ties from the Bow Tie Guy: The stresses of caregiving don’t go away when your role as caregiver ends. This podcast talks about how to cope with life after eldercare or caregiving. It also helps listeners through this unique phase of life.
- People with Parents: They say laughter is the best medicine, and this podcast is the perfect remedy. The comedian host discusses the emotional aspects of caregiving and talks about relationships through storytelling and interviews.
The bottom line
As you can see, there are plenty of resources for caregivers available both in your community and online. Whether you prefer to read and listen to stories to or engage with local communities, there is a space for you as a caregiver. Need more resources? Be sure to check out the links included in this article to connect with the many networks of caregivers.
If you need financial guidance for yourself or your loved one, be sure to reach out to us. We’ve worked with many individuals and families as they transition into retirement while navigating through the challenges of caring for an aging adult. Our seasoned planners are here to help lighten your burden by helping you create a written plan that takes caregiving into account, and shows you where your income will come from to fund your expenses through age 100 – removing the fear of outliving your money. If you’d like to take the first step in taking control of your financial future, we’re ready to help get your started. www.TheRetirementSolution.com