Become a caregiver for a spouse or elderly parent can be overwhelming. From managing two households to overseeing or providing personal care, it can be difficult to reach out for help when you don’t know where to turn.
Whether you need help in the home or emotional support for you or your parent, reaching out can make a positive impact on your day-to-day life. These underutilized free or low cost resources are a great place to start in connecting with others and finding support on your caregiving journey. Resources to Help Caregivers
- Senior Centers: I am a huge fan of senior centers. In addition to all of the wonderful activities and classes they offer, your local senior center is an excellent resource for you as a caregiver. Did you know that you can purchase Taxi vouchers for seniors there (depending on availability in your city)? They can also help you with applications for other city or federal transportation or wellness services and provide referrals for services outside their scope. Many senior centers also provide tax help and computer training. This should definitely be one of your first stops in your caregiving journey.
- Your Local Hospital Website: Many hospitals offer classes, workshops or support groups tailored to specific medical conditions or general well-being. They are usually facilitated by doctors, nurses or social workers and are designed to help patients live a healthier, richer life, even when they deal with a chronic health condition. This is a great way to gain valuable information on living well or to learn how to better deal with medical challenges – everything from diabetes to Parkinson’s Disease. You will also have the opportunity to meet others living with the same condition.
- YMCA: I know, you’re thinking, wait, that’s a gym. You’re right, it is, but did you know that many YMCAs actually have senior programming? I know of three in my community that have special senior programs focusing on everything from life story writing, balance classes, healthy eating workshops and brain fitness classes. It’s not just about working out anymore, although, they also have fitness classes geared specifically towards seniors, including chair workouts, yoga and Tai Chi.
- Nonprofit Organizations: While these organizations are mainly known for their fundraising and treatment research, nonprofit groups such as the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and Alzheimer’s Association do more than fund research. Many of them also provide support for families and patients, including workshops, support groups and actual help in the home. I have heard of nonprofits providing everything from home cleaning services to patients undergoing treatment to sending caregivers to the home to give the caregiver a break. You won’t know what is offered until you reach out.
The caregiving journey can be challenging. Between all of the tasks of helping your parent run their life to running your own life, it can become overwhelming. Just taking one small step at a time to reach out for help will make a huge difference.
Resources to Help Caregivers