Perhaps you are new to the role of caregiver or you haven’t had the time to revisit some of the resources out there to help you in your role, I figured I would create a quick list of 12 places you should look to when trying to address your caregiver situation. These are places where you can find some answers and tips to help speed up the learning process or find answers more quickly.
Personally, I can get lost when I look things up online. I can dive deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole. So my first inclination is now to find a contact and ask a human being a question. If they don’t have the answer, then I can go down the rabbit hole, but IF they do have the answer, it can save me a couple of hours of searching through “stuff”.
Who to talk with:
Your Agency on Aging. Here in Connecticut we have a few different ones that cover regions / counties. Our local one is the Southwestern Connecticut Agency on Aging (SWCAA). They are staffed with people who specialize in countless areas around the process of aging. They have special caregiver programs and people who understand the “system”. They are a great first resource to helping you get the information you need. For reference - here is the website for SWCAA - www.swcaa.org.
Your local senior center. If you are fortunate enough to have a local Senior Center, they are a fantastic resource to connect you with people, places and things to help in your caregiver role. Plus they organize many activities and seminars to help people stay involved in their communities as they age.
Your local town - you never know if your local town hall might have some great information about special exemptions, or programs to help loved ones who are aging or caring for those who need help. Make sure you check in and see if you might qualify for some special assistance OR special programs available to help make your life more manageable.
When looking for resources online - there are a few sites that have some consolidated information. Consider looking at the following places to start to find programs or support information.
Caregiving.org - here is a link to a great “resources” page for caregivers. The National Alliance for Caregiving is there with so much good content and great resources that people can use in general and specifically to their own caregiving scenario (I.e., cancer, dementia, etc.). Here is a specific resource page: https://www.caregiving.org/resources/
AARP.org - the pre-eminent retirement / elder advocacy group in the US, AARP has a bevy of resources available including a large swath of caregiver specific content. Here’s a link to their Family Caregiving page: https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/?intcmp=GLBNAV-PL-CAR
The American Society on Aging (assuaging.org): This group primarily helps those who are taking care of or serving elders and they have a good resource page including 25 Organizations That Take Care of Caregivers (https://www.asaging.org/blog/25-organizations-take-care-caregivers)
Administration for Community Living: The ACL (ACL.gov), advocates for the rights of people, including our elders, to remain empowered and live productively as members of our society. The ACL funds programs around the country based on census data, etc with the communities. SO if you are a caregiver, make sure that Census docs are filled out by you and / or the person you care for. If your community has a higher proportion of caregivers / elders then more funding could be available for needed resources to make your caregiver responsibilities easier. Here’s a summary page about their National Family Caregiver Support Program - who knows, maybe you’ll qualify for something today…https://acl.gov/programs/support-caregivers/national-family-caregiver-support-program
Caring for a Vet? The VA can be hard to navigate at times (va.gov). However, that doesn’t mean you should stop trying. There are a lot of caregiver support programs there and the up front hassle may have long term benefits to help you care for someone who might qualify for Vet assistance programs, etc. Here’s a link to their Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (https://www.va.gov/health-care/family-caregiver-benefits/comprehensive-assistance/).
Family Caregiver Alliance: A non-profit dedicated to helping caregivers and their families with tips and education https://www.caregiver.org/
Some helpful publications:
Daily Caring - www.dailycaring.com. I love this site. They have a great daily newsletter with tons of great information on the practical and emotional side of caregiving. Always good nuggets there.
Today’s Caregiver - A publication that runs events nationwide and that has great content. https://caregiver.com/
Trusted Media Brands is the parent company of magazines like Birds & Blooms and Reader’s Digest. But they also run a smaller magazine that is called Reminisce. It’s a small publication without a true online presence, but it is dedicated to publishing photos and memories from yesteryear. It’s a great publication for those who might want to sit down and reminisce for a while - called out particularly for those who might suffer from dementia. http://www.reminisce.com/. Reader’s Digest is also one of those publications you can’t go wring with…