As the Baby Boomer generation moves into their retirement years, the older population is increasing dramatically, and experts tell us this growth shows no sign of slowing down in the decades to come. Consequently, many of us will provide care for an elder loved one at some point in time. That care can mean the world to a senior who wishes to remain in his/her own home; however, it can be exhausting and emotionally draining for a caregiver. In honor of National Family Caregiver Month this November, the Annapolis estate planning attorneys at Sinclair Prosser Gasior discuss how to help caregivers.
National Family Caregiver Month
Each November, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recognizes National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) to acknowledge the millions of family caregivers who are caring for their loved ones with a chronic disease. With 2.2 million stroke family caregivers in the U.S., the AHA/ASA strives to provide the post-stroke resources, information, and recognition family caregivers need to not only help their loved one, but to find the time for self-care they often lose.
Although the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association are the official sponsors of national Family Caregiver Month, you certainly do not have to be caring for someone post-stroke to be honored. As the healthcare system struggles to keep up with the demand for caregivers for Alzheimer’s sufferers, family caregivers continue to carry the load, as evidenced by the following facts and figures:
- 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.
Tips for Family Caregivers – Caring for Yourself
Caregivers frequently focus solely on the “patient” and forget to care for themselves. Try to remember that the healthier you are, physically and mentally, the more you can help care for your loved one. Toward that end, 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.
- Make lists. By organizing your calendar, it helps you stay on task and avoid wasting time.
- Prepare a care plan. Although time-consuming at first, it will save time once completed. When leaving your loved one in the care of someone else, reviewing a completed Care Plan should take only a few minutes.
- 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.
- Just say YES. This can be the hardest thing of all! When anyone offers to help in any way, accept the offer or say thank you or, if what they’ve offered to do isn’t something you need, suggest an alternative that would help.
- Consider paying yourself. Check Medicaid programs in your state. You may find that they 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.
Contact an Annapolis Estate Planning Attorney
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about how to take care of yourself if you are a caregiver, contact an experienced Annapolis estate planning attorney at Sinclair Prosser Gasior by calling (410) 573-4818 to schedule an appointment.