10-thingsCaregiving’s a tough job, but you’re not in it alone. Put these tips and resources in your toolbox.

For All Caregivers

  1. Prepare Early

Even if your family’s healthy, having a plan can ease stress if illness or disability does strike.

Talk to parents or any loved one about their potential needs, hold a family meeting, and agree on an action plan.

Medicare charts what every caregiver should know, and the Family Caregiver Alliance provides a Caregiving 101 primer. Topics you’ll want to consider include legal planning, financial planning, and first steps.

  1. Manage Money

Caregivers often take over their loved one’s financial planning. You may need to file taxes and insurance claims, manage investments, and handle housing issues.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers booklets to help financial caregivers. The AARP website’s Legal and Money section helps answer tricky questions, too.

  1. Understand Medicare and Medicaid

Know the differences between these two programs. For instance, Medicare is usually available to people 65 or older. It covers hospital stays and nursing facilities but doesn’t cover long-term care. Learn more about what Medicare covers here.

Medicaid programs are run state-by-state, so check with your state office for specifics. Medicaid is usually available to people with limited financial resources. Need more information? Check out Healthcare.gov and Disability.gov.

  1. Get a Helping Hand

Learn how to ask for help. Many organizations take care of caregivers. Your local area agency on aging, and the Family Care Navigator, can direct you to services you need.

Whether you’re looking for in-home help, a home health agency or out-of-home care, there’s assistance out there to match your needs.

  1. Take Time For Yourself

Focus on your wellbeing. Caregivers often burn out from stress, so don’t neglect your basic health needs. The Alzheimer’s Association offers simple steps for caregivers to stay healthy.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, look into treatment options and support services designed for caregivers.

  1. Find a Support Group

Family caregiver support groups are funded in each state. The Caregiver Action Network has tips on finding a support group that works for you.

Reach out to local government agencies or call the AARP’s support line (1-877-333-5885) for more information. Prefer an online forum? The Family Caregiver Alliance offers one, as does the AARP. Support groups can be a great way to relieve stress.

For Specific Types of Caregivers

  1. Young Caregivers

Many caregivers are between the ages of 8 and 18. If you’re one of them, you juggle a unique set of responsibilities. But you’re not alone. The American Association for Caregiving Youth lists practical tips and places to reach out to for more support.

CancerCare.org offers a support group for young people aged 20-39 with a loved one diagnosed with cancer. And at any age, young caregivers should practice self-care.

  1. Caregivers for Veterans

Look into the resources provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). There’s information for family members new to caregiving, multiple support programs, and services for older veterans.

Veterans injured while on active duty, or suffering post-9/11 injuries, may be eligible for special aid.

  1. Long-Distance Caregivers

For the 6.9 million Americans who are long-distance caregivers, assisting their loved one can be a challenge. Here’s a primer to get started.

Caring From a Distance and the National Institute on Aging provide guides for caregivers in this situation. Learn how to form a caregiver support system, put together necessary documents, and stay connected.

  1. Caregivers for Children with Disabilities

Care for, advocate for, and empower your child. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer tips to do just that.

Organizations like Parent to Parent USA and others provide information on therapy, early intervention, transportation, school services and more.

New to caregiving for a child with a disability? Check out this detailed roadmap for family caregivers.



Resources for Grandparent Caregivers

January 21, 2016

Grandparent caregivers are on the rise. Census data shows that there are approximately 2.4 million grandparents raising 4.5 million children. When the grandchild’s parents are unable or unwilling to care for the child, a grandparent may step in to assume responsibility for the child. It may be a temporary or permanent situation caused by a […]

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Controversial Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 Available in Book Format

January 20, 2016

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines is designed to help Americans eat a healthier diet. Intended for policymakers and health professionals, this edition of the Dietary Guidelines outlines how people can improve their overall eating patterns — the complete combination of foods and drinks in their diet. This edition offers 5 overarching Guidelines and a number of […]

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Moderate Drinking May Benefit Alzheimer’s Patients

January 19, 2016

Is moderate drinking the key to a longer life? A new study thinks so. For early stage Alzheimer’s patients, a couple of drinks a day could lower the risk of premature death. Over 320 people in Denmark with early stage Alzheimer’s joined the study. Researchers followed participants for three years. What they noticed was surprising. […]

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CMS Pilot Project to Test Improving Health by Connection to Social Services

January 14, 2016

The Department of Health and Human Services revealed a pilot program with $157 million in funding to test the bridge between clinical care and social services. The program will determine whether screening beneficiaries for health related social needs and referral to community based services will improve quality and affordability in Medicare and Medicaid. “For decades, […]

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New Veterans Affairs Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring Program

January 12, 2016

Caregivers for veterans have a new way to connect with one another. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) now offers a Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring Program. Since caregiving can be isolating, and since veterans have unique needs, this program provides specialized support and guidance. The program is open to caregivers for veterans of all eras. […]

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The 2015 White House Conference on Aging Report

January 8, 2016

Last year’s White House Conference on Aging introduced many groundbreaking initiatives for elderly Americans. Older Americans, caregivers, advocates, community leaders and families joined President Obama at the White House to discuss the needs of America’s aging population. Retirement Security Strengthening Social Security is a priority for the administration, as well as increasing access to retirement […]

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Reflections from the Field of Aging Services

January 7, 2016

Welcome back, readers. 2016 is here, bringing with it fresh opportunities to learn and grow as professionals in the aging field. Before moving forward, I want to take a moment to reflect on a few personal truths that I have discovered in working with this unique population. Age really is just a number. I have […]

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