Providing assistance to family members and friends who require long-term care (LTC) is stressful. Consider these findings from Genworth’s 2015 Beyond Dollars study:
- Seventy-seven percent of caregivers reported missing some work during the past year, up 19 percent from Genworth’s 2010 survey of caregivers.
- Caregivers missed an average of seven hours of work per week.
- Nineteen percent missed 10 or more hours of work per week.
As a result of their caregiving responsibilities:
- Eleven percent had lost their jobs.
- Ten percent had to change careers, and 12 percent had to change positions
LTCI agents can help their clients’ caregivers by guiding them to available resources. Here are two websites created for that purpose.
This site is sponsored by the San Francisco-based Family Caregiver Alliance’s National Center on Caregiving. According to Leah Eskenazi, MSW, the organization’s operations director, the site focuses on helping caregivers learn more about three topics: information, respite and support.
The information that’s required can cover a wide range, she explained. Family caregivers need to understand the care recipient’s medical condition and to know about available resources such as transportation, home delivery of meals or adult day care. The site’s Family Care Navigator lets visitors click on their state and view information and contact details for a variety of private and public resource organizations in their area. “All sorts of pieces of information are critical and so we have an information-rich library, all professionally vetted,” Eskenazi said.
At some point, every caregiver needs a break — respite — but that can mean different things to different people. Some might want a person to come into the home and stay with the care recipient for a few hours so they can go shopping. Others might need access to an adult day care facility. Another option in some cases is for the care recipient to attend one of the weekend camps run by the Alliance, giving the caregiver a few days off at home.
Support is also critical, Eskenazi emphasized. Nobody can provide care alone: it’s isolating, it can be boring and it can be crisis-oriented. “[Caregivers] need support to know that what they’re doing is right or maybe they could learn to do things a little bit differently,” she said. “They also need to know how to take care of themselves when they’re caring for somebody else. We want to make sure we help the caregivers take care of themselves in terms of both health-wise and financially and emotionally so that they’re as strong as they can possible be during this journey as a caregiver.”
According to its website, Washington-based Daughterhood.org’s “mission is to support and build confidence in women who are managing their parents’ care.” The site works to bring women together around topics and issues that are related to being in charge of parents’ care, said Anne Tumlinson, the organization’s founder.
To date it’s been a digital community but the organization is now launching local groups as well. “We’ve been testing it out for the last year, but I think we’re now really ready to make a big push to recruit local leaders and begin to bring women together at the local level,” Tumlinson said.
Caregivers face gaps between the resources they need and what they can find, she maintains. The gaps occur at both the general level — how to choose a home care agency — and the local level — how to select from the 60 home care agencies in the area. Caregivers can start closing the gap by checking with their local agency on aging, Tumlinson suggested. Eldercare.gov’s eldercare locator has a zip code-based search function to identify local agencies. Another resource is Tumlinson’s recent blog post, “Essential Websites for the Daughterhood Journey,” which provides links to online resources that she has found most helpful.