This is the first of many blogs that will be part of an ongoing blog series answering FAQ by caregivers.
When you become a caregiver for an elderly or sick family member, you’re in a position to do a lot of good and help provide the best quality of life possible. But caregiving isn’t easy, and you’re sure to have questions come up. Some of them may be about the specifics of the situation, but many of the more common ones are simply about how to be the most effective caregiver you can be. We answer some of them here.
Where can I find information on dealing with stress in a caregiving situation?
Being a caregiver can be stressful. It’s important for you and for your patient that you recognize the stress and understand how best to manage it. Sometimes that means giving yourself a little break. Other times, that means connecting with friends or asking for help. By managing your stress as a caregiver, you can be more effective at helping your patient.
Other caregiver stress management tips can be found here: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving/info-06-2010/crc-10-caregiver-stress-managment-tips.html
How can I get training and/or education on caregiving issues?
You’re not alone and there is training out there for you to learn how to provide the best care possible. Depending on the kind of care you’re providing and the situation your family member is in, different organizations hold workshops all over the country. The Family Caregiver Alliance offers classes and workshops seasonally, with subjects ranging from how to communicate with doctors to managing frustration to classes about specific conditions such as dementia or Parkinson’s disease. You can find more information about these workshops here: https://www.caregiver.org/resource-type/classes-workshops
Other organizations also offer workshops. The Alzheimer’s Association offers different workshops for caregivers of different stages of Alzheimer's: http://www.alz.org/sewi/in_my_community_58876.asp
How can I get information on what services are available in my area of the state?
Every state has an agency on aging. These can usually be found by search your state’s official website. These agencies on aging can help you find local services that can help you as a caregiver.
How can I take time off work to care for a family member?
The Family and Medical Leave Act allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year to care for yourself or a sick family member. This only applies to companies with 50 or more employees and you must have at least worked 52 days full time during the previous year before taking the leave. For more information about the FMLA, visit: http://www.dol.gov/whd/fmla/index.htm
Can I get paid to care for a family member?
Unfortunately, there are very few programs that will pay family members or friends to provide care. This type of care, known as community-based long-term care, is not paid for by Medicare. That said, some states offer attritional programs that provide money to pay family member to provide care through Medicaid, so you should check with your local Medicaid office or state agency on aging.