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Support and Assistance for Caregivers

Adapted from the Administration on Aging by Karen Schroeder, MS, RD

Did you know that 25% of Americans are caregivers for an older family member or friend? Another startling statistic is that approximately 25% to 40% of women care for both their older relatives and their children. On top of their caregiving responsibilities, half of all caregivers also work outside the home.

The demands and constraints of caregiving can become overwhelming. It is no wonder that caregivers—whether they are full or part-time—need help and support. Depending on your work, living and family situation, there are options that can make caregiving easier.

It is difficult to manage caregiving on your own. Seek help from others:

Your Employer

Talk with your supervisor about telecommuting, flex time, job sharing, or rearranging your schedule to help reduce your stress. In addition, some companies offer resource materials, counseling, and training programs to help caregivers. Ask your human resources department or contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Older Children

Encourage your older children to become involved in the care of your family member. Such responsibility, as long as it is not too burdensome, can help young people to become more empathetic, responsible and self-confident. Another option is to have your older children take over non-caregiving responsibilities that you would normally do, such as laundry or dinner preparation, to take some of the pressure off of you.

Other Family Members

Ask other family members to share in the responsibility of caregiving. Your siblings, if they live nearby, have just as much reason as you to assist their aging parent. Meet with them and explain all that needs to be done; they may not be aware of how much work you need to do. A family conference can often help in sorting out the tasks and schedules that other family members are able to assume. Neighbors and friends may also be willing to provide transportation and help with shopping, household chores, and repair tasks.

Respite Care

Another source of help is respite care. This is care that provides a break for the primary caregiver, ranging from a few hours to days or weeks. Respite care services can be arranged through your Area Agency on Aging (see Resources below). The service offers assistance such as meal preparation, dressing, grooming, feeding, and light housekeeping. A four-hour session is usually the minimum, with the maximum being 80 hours per year.

Consider Care Services

The help provided by you, other family members, friends and neighbors may not be enough to enable an older person to remain independent. In this case you will need to look for other means of support.

Gathering Information

These two agencies are a great place to start:

The National Eldercare Locator (funded by the Administration on Aging). Eldercare Locator advisors can direct you to agencies and organizations that can assist you.

Area Agency on Aging. This agency can determine which services are appropriate for older adults, depending on income and needs. This agency can provide support or give referrals to other agencies that provide the services and support. Some services are available only to people on limited budgets. (See list of Eldercare Resources)

Some of the services available through the Area Agency on Aging are:

  • Homemaker and Home Health Aides
  • Transportation
  • Home-delivered meals
  • Chores and home repair
  • Legal assistance

Services for which you can get a referral from the Area Agency on Aging include the following:

  • Subsidized Housing
  • Food Stamps
  • Supplemental Security Income
  • Medicaid
  • Qualified Medicare Beneficiary program
  • Senior center programs
  • Adult day care programs

If your older relative has been hospitalized, the hospital or nursing home discharge planner or social worker can also direct you to the appropriate services.

Content provided with permission from HealthGate Data Corp. Copyright © 2004 HealthGate Data Corp.



For more information or to discuss elder care concerns please contact Partners Employee Assistance Program at 1-866-724-4EAP.

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This content was last modified on: 06/30/2008

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