Caregiving is an exploding industry in the United States. People are living longer and choosing to either age in place or looking for a loved one to help them. Those who are embarking on a career as a caregiver may be looking for advice. Resources are a must, as they can also make caregiving less stressful, more efficient, and safer.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Resources for Family Caregivers
- Resources For Caregivers of Aging Adults or Those With Dementia
- Resources for Caregiver Burnout or Stress
- How to Find Local Caregiver Resources
These same resources can be helpful to almost everyone, depending on their learning style. Some might benefit from hands-on learning, while others work best learning from a book, or via video.
Finding what you need may involve accessing several sites and organizations. Some of the caregiver resources we recommend in this article are more research-based, and others are focused on education and how-to instructions. We’ve listed over a dozen below. By exploring these different sites and programs, you may learn more in your quest to become a better caregiver.
Resources for Family Caregivers
Family caregivers are a diverse and varied group of individuals who are dedicated to taking care of a loved one. Family caregivers are younger, older, male, female, and may even be a grandchild, niece, or nephew.
The resources described below provide a good starting point for family caregivers looking for support, education, and reliable information. Caregiver support groups are another great avenue to learn from other caregivers about their caregiving experience and a chance to offer your own expertise as well.
1. AARP Family Caregiving
AARP has comprehensive and up to date information on caregiving and aging. They may have the most robust caregiving site available and cover topics such as caregiving during COVID-19, caregiver stress, and where to find local resources.
Almost any caregiver can find something to suit their style of learning, whether they be “how-to” videos, or articles on Gen X caregiving and how to manage someone in a nursing home.
As a nationally recognized organization, AARP does extensive research on caregiving, long term care, insurance options, and more.
2. Family Caregiver Alliance
The Family Caregiver Alliance is an advocacy and educational organization. They have a very simple, but powerful mission: “To improve the quality of life for caregivers and the people who receive their care.”
Their site is easy to navigate and includes caregiving for a variety of conditions including dementia, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), and more. Each condition is accompanied by a description of causes, symptoms, and caregiving issues.
3. National Alliance for Caregiving
The National Alliance for Caregiving is another caregiving organization with a focus on advocacy, research, and innovation. They have extensive information related to the current COVID pandemic and caregiving issues.
4. Eldercare Locator
Eldercare Locator is a service of the Administration on Aging. It is a one-stop website that helps families locate caregiving and other resources in their community.
Eldercare Locator covers such topics as housing, elder rights, insurance benefits, support services, transportation, and health.
5. National Institutes for Health
As a family caregiver, you likely deal with medical issues for your loved one. The internet has plenty of medical sites, but it can be hard to know whether the information is reliable and up to date.
The National Institutes for Health invests over $40 billion annually in medical research for the American people. Therefore, their information is current and research-based. They also have links to other disease-specific websites.
Resources For Caregivers of Aging Adults or Those With Dementia
Caring for someone with dementia is particularly challenging and stressful. The type of dementia and progression of the disease may be unpredictable, making it difficult to know what to expect and how to handle problems with behavior and memory loss.
The Family Caregiver Alliance and AARP, as mentioned earlier are also good places to get information on dementia, and aging.
6. The Alzheimer’s Association
Whether your loved one has Alzheimer’s or some other type of dementia, The Alzheimer’s Association can help guide you to what you may be looking for.
The Alzheimer’s Association connects you to local resources, caregiver support group information, and descriptions of symptoms with caregiver tips. They also have information on wandering, a serious problem for people with dementia. Their program, Safe Return, is a national emergency response system dedicated to helping locate elders who go missing and returning them home safely.
In the past, the Alzheimer’s Association was known for its many in-person support groups across the country. Due to COVID-19, they are conducting all support groups via video conferencing or phone.
7. Adult Day Care
Adult Day Care programs can be a valuable resource for caregivers giving a respite from daily caregiving duties. These programs also provide much-needed socialization and stimulation for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia or other disorders.
A typical adult day care program offers half or day-long care for your loved one for a nominal cost compared to assisted living or other institutional care. Depending on the area where you live, transportation might also be provided. Adult Day Care, however, may only be limited to larger communities and regional areas.
Resources for Caregiver Burnout or Stress
Caregiver burnout and stress are common conditions. Competing responsibilities, caregiver resentment, or the accumulation of growing caregiver duties, can lead to stress. All of the aforementioned sites address forms of caregiver stress and burnout, but here are a few more to consider.
8. American Psychological Association
The American Psychological Association “is the leading scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States, with more than 121,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants, and students as its members. “
Depression and anxiety are common but serious mental health conditions that can affect anyone and caregivers can be prone to both. The American Psychological Association can help you identify symptoms and give advice on where to find help. If you are feeling severely burnt out, you may want to consider a therapist to assist with managing these feelings. Many therapists are now using teletherapy for their clients, which means you can stay in the comfort of your home.
9. Administration on Aging
The Administration on Aging is a program of the Department of Health and Human Services. They are a Federal agency responsible for advancing the concerns and interests of older people and their caregivers.
The site has connections to everything from elder abuse to data and research on aging and disabilities.
10. Home care
Home care is a term that can be confusing and misleading. To clarify, home care is used to describe paid professional caregivers that, depending on the state where you live, can assist family caregivers with a variety of tasks. The term is often mistaken for home health which is a time-limited, insurance covered service that offers nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and more.
If you can afford home care, these caregivers can assume many of the tasks of caregiving. They can provide companionship, help with bathing and dressing, transportation, grocery shopping, and meal preparation.
The advantage of home care is that it is flexible. The number of hours and days is up to you and your loved one and can be adjusted based on changing needs. The Home Care Association is a good place to start to learn more about how home care can help and where to look for local companies.
How to Find Local Caregiver Resources
Local caregiver resources will be more available and easier to access if you live in an urban area. Rural communities have fewer options, but resources are growing in these areas as the need increases.
Most of the resources mentioned here will have links to local organizations in your area. National organizations such as The National Multiple Sclerosis Society and The American Parkinson Disease Association have local chapters in most cities.
11. The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging allows you to link to your local Area Agency on Aging. Area Agencies on Aging can help with the following:
- Information and Referral
- Care and personal care referrals
- Nutrition services like Meals on Wheels
- Legal Services
12. Geriatric care managers, social workers, health care providers
If your loved one is in the hospital or rehab, a good social worker in these settings can guide you to reliable resources for aftercare. This may include home health, home care, and durable equipment companies.
Often a physician’s office also has a list of local resources they have used and can vouch for. It is still important to consider evaluating these services for yourself so that you feel satisfied.
Geriatric care managers (now called Aging Life Care Professionals) will help identify local resources and manage those services once they are in place. In most instances, their services are an out of pocket cost.
Caregiver Resources Can Help Empower You
Caregiving can be a lonely endeavor. Once you start to explore the programs and websites dedicated to research, support, advocacy, and education, you may find that there is an enormous community of caregiving experts at your fingertips-and many of those experts are caregivers just like yourself.
The more informed you become, the more confident you will be as you move through the caregiving journey.