When Lisa’s mom was hospitalized, her dad begged her to take care of her mom if he ever couldn’t. Of course, Lisa said “yes.”  Years later, when Lisa’s dad passed away, her mom’s hearing and eyesight had failed, she could no longer drive, and she had fallen several times.

Lisa’s first step in keeping her promise was to visit an elder law attorney to make sure that her mom had the proper financial planning in place with proper powers of attorney.  This is important for older adults, particularly those in her mom’s situation.

When Lisa kept her promise, she joined a community of millions who are taking care of aging parents. The challenge is enormous. Caregivers can keenly feel the loss of freedom. Family emotional issues, left unaddressed for years, may re-emerge. Lisa might be spending money she’s not sure she has. She can’t sleep for worry. She is wrestling with the demands of caregiving at the same time she’s striving to meet commitments to her own family and workplace. Her own health can act up. Time off from work is harder and harder to come by when facing the daily demands and frequent emergencies that emerge.

The great numbers of people in Lisa’s situation pose a substantial public health issue. Congress has recently passed the RAISE Family Caregivers Act to establish a national strategy to provide help for people in these circumstances. It’s very important that caregivers also take care of themselves. Time-honored flight attendants’ advice is good here. Put on your own oxygen mask first before trying to help others.

For advice on self-care and how to manage caregiver stress, visit the Mayo Clinic website, here.  Then, take full advantage of the numerous resources listed below.

Area Agencies on Aging: https://www.n4a.org/caregivers

This is a national association of nonprofit agencies serving as a clearinghouse for information on public long-term support and benefits. Services include elder transportation, emergency assistance, respite care (temporary supervision of the elder to provide rest for the caregiver), individual counseling and support groups, and caregiver education classes and training.

Caregiver Action Network: http://caregiveraction.org/

This website provides caregiver advice including helpful care checklists, cost management, and juggling work and family obligations with caregiving responsibilities.

Family Caregiver Alliance: https://www.caregiver.org/

This is the first community-based nonprofit in the country to address the needs of families and friends providing long-term care for loved ones at home. The site provides information, support, and resources state-by-state, as well as sponsoring research initiatives for caregiver programs and policies.

National Alliance for Caregiving: https://www.caregiving.org/

This site provides a long list of resources, including government programs for family caregivers, care locators, caregiving calendar to coordinate group volunteer efforts, financial information, and organizations that address caregiving for specific conditions like cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Parenting Our Parents: http://www.parentingourparents.org/

This side provides an opportunity for peer-to-peer networking, family coaching, videos, and website compendiums.

If you have questions on anything you have read or would like additional information, please contact me.