No one wants to think about growing old, especially people between the ages of 20 and 30. But if you’re helping a parent or grandparent, it’s in your face every day. And the National Alliance of Caregiving and AARP study found that 25 percent of the 40 million caregivers in the United States are Millennials. Recently, family caregivers were predominately female over the age of 49, but it extends to men and the younger generations.
The problem with care-giving at a younger age is that you’re forced to compromise employment and deal with heavier stress than expected, and it puts a strain on your financial wherewithal. And the more hours you put in, the more complicated the role becomes. You begin to execute nursing or other complex care tasks, such as administering oral medicines or injections, wound care, or operating medical equipment.
It’s unfortunate, but care-giving forces you to postpone activities, rearrange work schedules, put off school, break appointments, and basically, hampers living a life at all. Taking care of someone you love is not clean or uncomplicated; it’s demanding, role changing, and chaotic. Once you’re in it, life is never the same, and it forces a person to grow in mind-boggling ways, hopefully, in behaviors that turn into lifelong attributes, if you’re lucky and wise.
Here’s how to make the care-giving role work better and not drag you down. You must set a priority to learn about long-term care support and services otherwise you’ll be a dreaded caregiver statistic. There’s no circumventing the emotional pressure of helping someone, but reaching out and asking for assistance is a surefire way to get your life back on track.
1. Find Affordable Services
One in four family caregivers reports difficulty in finding affordable support and services like meals, transportation, or in-home care services in the community for a loved one. Here’s where to find solutions:
- Meals on Wheels – There are more than 5,000 independently-run local programs. They receive funds from the Older Americans Act and contributions from local businesses, donors, and sponsors. Volunteers help make the program a national safety net for older adults living at home. Costs vary on the location branch.
- Local senior centers – Many communities have a center for seniors. Meals are offered to go or in person and prices differ in cities.
- Salvation Army – Some locations provide on-site and meal delivery for the elderly.
- Visiting Nurses Associations – Local associations deliver fresh and frozen meals to residents for a low cost.
- Area Agency on Aging – is a federally funded program that operates in local areas to maximize independence and health of older adults and people living with disabilities. They assist with locating low-cost personal care services and transportation.
- Non-profits and local agencies make it possible for seniors to live at home by offering budget wise services like meal delivery. Do a local search online for family service agency. Most agencies can direct you to low-cost care and transportation services.
- Paratransit Services – Provides cars, vans, or buses to collect and drop off individuals at their homes.
- Veteran Transit Services
- Senior transport and rideshare services like Uber delivers low-cost transportation services to senior riders.
2. Get Senior Care Expert Help
There are professionals and programs that assist caregivers find information and help on topics like keeping loved ones at home and dealing with challenging behaviors.
- Advice from 44 leading senior care experts on aging care needs.
- Learn the basics of self-care activities to help people as they age or if they live with a physical or mental challenge.
- Gain simple understanding of chronic conditions and help your loved one cope.
- Home safety for older adults.
- Where to find in-home care agencies, since most older adults want to live at home, this directory helps families find a reliable and secure home care agency.
- Smart ways to turn assets into the financial support that pays for senior care.
3. Things Employed Caregivers SHOULD NOT DO
Balancing employment with giving care requires ingenious strategies. No employer wants to hire a person who jumps from job to job or who looks for an easy way out. Don’t take the easy road and make painful mistakes that will hurt a career down the road.
Decisions that hurt your career:
- Quit the job.
- Take a leave of absence.
- Change employment.
- Whine and throw pity parties at work.
4. Things Employed Caregivers SHOULD DO
Instead of making hasty and senseless decisions that batter your career later on, take time out and gather your wits. First, think about the options; the things that need your undivided attention on the job and at home (Tip: look at the suggestions below.) After that, talk to a supervisor or manager and share your ideas on how to remain productive at work. Emphasize the importance of being at the top of your game at work and at home helping a family member.
- Work remotely from home.
- Create a flex-schedule, one that works around a loved one’s schedule.
- Use Skype or FaceTime to connect with your boss or a project team.
- Learn about the Family and Medical Leave Act.
- Check into part-time work or job sharing with the current employer.
5. Stay on Top of the Caregiving Duties
It’s easy to monitor a loved one’s well-being and safety from a distance. There are several online tools to share (privately) health records and coordinate responsibilities with family members. The following tools helps track appointments and updates the family network.