As the elderly population in the United States continues to grow at an unprecedented rate, the need for caregivers for the elderly has also experienced a corresponding increase. Oftentimes, family members or close friends offer to provide care to an elderly individual without expecting payment for that care. If you are one of those caregivers, it is important that you acknowledge the impact your selfless caregiving will have on you and your family. Remember that if you completely ignore your own needs your body will eventually rebel and the end result may render you unable to care for your loved one. To help you keep yourself healthy, the Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft offer some tips for the caregiver.
- Keep learning. Although not every elderly individual in need of care is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, many are or will develop the disease at some point in the future. As a caregiver, it helps to understand the disease and the impact it has on individual sufferers, families, and society as a whole. For example, did you know that:
- More than 5 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s.
- Someone in the U.S. develops the disease every 66 seconds.
- 15 million Americans provide unpaid care for people suffering from Alzheimer’s each year.
- In 2016, unpaid caregivers provided over 18 billion hours of care, valued at over 230 billion dollars.
- Set limits and stick to them. You are human and, therefore, there are limits to what you can do by yourself.
- Schedule hours/days off. Everyone needs time to recharge. Schedule this time and make the most of it because you won’t be any good to anyone if you are run down and exhausted. Rest and recharge during your time off.
- Don’t give up your own life. Keep in contact with friends, make plans to do things you like, and don’t neglect other family members. If you devote every minute of your life to caring for someone else, even someone you love dearly, you will eventually end up resenting them.
- Find a support group. They are not difficult to find. Locate one and lean on the people in the group who are going through the same thing you are. The Alzheimer’s Association website offers information on support groups and contact information for additional resources that may be able to help you connect with others in your situation.
- Share the burden. Let other family members and/or friends help by taking over on your “day off” or by cooking dinner for you and your family, for example. Don’t try to do everything yourself.
- Hire professional help when needed. Most Medicaid programs will cover in-home professional healthcare services for Alzheimer patients. Take advantage of this opportunity to get some much needed professional assistance. In some states, Medicaid will even pay a family caregiver which can be a huge help if caring for your loved one is straining your finances.
- Accept the need for LTC when it becomes necessary. It is not a question of “if,” but of “when” long-term care will be needed. At some point, it will no longer be safe for your loved one to remain in your home so do not make the mistake of ignoring this eventuality. Start looking into your options early on so when the time comes everyone is prepared.
- Consider petitioning for guardianship. Just as your loved one will eventually need LTC, he/she will eventually be incapable of making decisions or safely living alone. To ensure that you have the continued authority to do what you have likely already been doing (paying bills, making doctor appointments etc.) you will probably need to become your loved one’s Guardian. Because that process can take some time, you should consult with an experienced elder law attorney in your area early on.
Contact Indianapolis Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please download our FREE estate planning worksheet. If you have additional questions or concerns about caring for someone with Alzheimer’s, or other elder law related issues, contact the experienced Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.