If you’re caring for an older loved one this holiday season, you’re not alone.
An estimated 44 million American families and friends provide unpaid care to another adult, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA). These caregivers provide about 80 percent of the long-term care in the United States.
Caregiving can take a personal and professional toll. Caregivers are at higher risk for depression, stress, and health problems like heart disease. They’re also less likely to care for themselves and their own health.
Up to half of all caregivers are also working, FCA states. These employees often lose time and wages, give up on career opportunities, or even quit their jobs to provide care to their family member.
Below are six resources that can make life easier for you and your loved one.
Millions of seniors and adults with disabilities qualify for—but are not enrolled in—programs that could help them pay for prescription drugs, medical care, food, or heat for their homes. BenefitsCheckUp® is a free, confidential, online service to see if you qualify for benefits and take the first steps toward applying.
Let’s face it, Medicare can be confusing. This free website provides step-by-step help to choose a Medicare plan for the first time, reassess coverage each year during open enrollment, and answer common questions about Medicare and what it covers.
A person’s home is often their largest and most important financial asset. Most older adults want to stay independent in their own homes as long as possible. This free website developed with the FINRA Investor Education Foundation helps older homeowners explore how they might be able to use their home equity to stay healthy and secure as they age.
The Administration on Aging offers this free public service to help connect people to services for older adults and their families. You can also reach Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.
This state-by-state resource from the Family Caregiver Alliance helps caregivers locate government, nonprofit, and private programs in their area. FCA also offers a wealth of information on care strategies, stress relief, family issues, and hands-on care, as well as online discussion groups to keep caregivers connected to each other.
The Veterans Administration offers this website for caregivers of veterans of all ages, along with a toll-free support line at 1-855-260-3274.
Photo credit: Thinkstock