If you have taken on the responsibility of providing care for an elderly loved one so that he/she can remain at home, you may already be familiar with the mental and physical exhaustion caregivers often face. It is easy to put your own needs on the backburner when caring for someone you love who is suffering from physical and/or mental deterioration. If you completely ignore your own needs, however, your body will eventually react, causing your own physical and/or mental deterioration. Ultimately, you are not helping your loved one if you ignore your own needs. With that in mind, the Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft discuss what you need to know if you are a caregiver.
Caregiver Facts and Figures
As the older population continues to increase in the United States, the number of people providing care to an older loved one also increases. Providing care frequently takes a toll on the caregiver and his/her family as the following facts and figures published by the Family Caregiver Alliance indicate:
- Approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months.
- About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months.
- Most caregivers (82%) care for one other adult, while 15% care for 2 adults, and 3% for 3 or more adults.
- Approximately 39.8 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18+) with a disability or illness or 16.6% of Americans.
- About 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
Additional facts and figures from the CDC related to caregivers include:
- 14.5% of caregivers reported experiencing 14 or more mentally unhealthy days in the past month.
- 17.6% of caregivers reported experiencing 14 or more physically unhealthy days in the past month.
- 36.7% of caregivers reported getting insufficient sleep.
Whether you are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or an elderly individual who is simply succumbing to the physical and mental deterioration that is part of the natural aging process, you will also suffer as will your family because of the care you provide if you don’t take steps to prevent that from happening. Consider the following tips:
- Set limits and stick to them. You are human and, therefore, there are limits to what you can do by yourself. Accept that fact and don’t push yourself past your limits.
- Schedule hours/days off every week for yourself. Everyone needs time to recharge. Schedule this time and stick to it because you won’t be any good to anyone if you are run down and exhausted.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hire professional help when needed. Most Medicaid programs will cover in-home professional healthcare services for elderly individuals who need assistance. Take advantage of this opportunity to get some much-needed professional assistance.
- Consider paying yourself. Many of those same Medicaid programs offer the option to pay a family member who is providing care. If your loved one qualifies, you may be able to participate in one of those programs, allowing you to accept some financial compensation for your caregiving functions without taking money directly from your loved one who may not have any to spare. Accepting compensation often helps ease the financial burden your caregiving may have placed on your own family.
- Accept the need for LTC when it becomes necessary. If your loved one’s health continues to deteriorate and/or you simply cannot provide care any longer, a long-term care facility may be the best option. Start looking into your options early on so that when the time comes everyone is prepared.
Contact Indianapolis Elder Law Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about elder law issues, contact the experienced Indianapolis elder law attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.
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