CARING FOR AN AGING LOVED ONE: A SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR FAMILY CAREGIVERS
Tips for Successful Caregiving
Printable Version (PDF format 9 pages)
As problems arise with your aging loved one's health and function, obtain a professional assessment of problems and needs. A geriatrician, a geriatric assessment program or a geriatric care manager are professionals who can evaluate and recommend solutions.
Seek information about the following: the normal changes associated with aging, and changes that might indicate a more serious problem. Specific information about any disease or health condition affecting your loved one, and preventive health practices.
Plan for the Future:
Learn about the range of services in your community that can help provide care in the home, as well as alternative living options. Pre-plan for financial needs (ie. trusts, financial assistance programs). Discuss "end of life" issues with your loved one, and help them execute a will, financial and health care powers of attorney, and a living will.
Encourage Reasonable Autonomy:
Respect the need of your loved one to make their own decisions and remain in control of their own lives. Limits are often placed on their autonomy due to illness, disability and inadequate financial resources. However, it is usually possible for them to participate to some degree in the decision-making process.
Make Small Changes:
Opt for the smallest amount of change possible at each step. Help your aging loved one understand that accepting a specific service or small amount of help now will actually help preserve their overall ability to remain independent.
Your loved one's condition, and therefore their needs, will change with time. Be prepared to re-evaluate their (and your) situation on a regular basis, and to make changes in the care plan as needed. Waiting until a crisis occurs insures that options will be more limited, and that decisions will have to be made in haste.
Share the Work:
Don't try to do everything yourself. Share the care responsibility among family, friends, professionals and paid helpers. Knowing your own limits and asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but of strength. It will insure quality of care for your loved one.
You have the right to say "no" to unrealistic demands or requests from anyone, including your loved one. You have the right to make caregiving decisions based upon your own needs as well as those of the person for whom you provide care. Avoid making promises you may not be able to keep, such as promising your loved one that he or she will "never" be placed in a care facility.
Focus on What You Have Done Well:
Often, caregivers focus only on what they haven't done, or on perceived mistakes. Remind yourself of the many things you have done well. Ask yourself: "How have I made a difference for my loved one? What have I done that I feel good about?" There will be times when you wish you had done things differently. You are only human. If you make a mistake, admit it, learn from it, and then go on.
Take Care of Yourself:
Caring for another person is the most difficult and stressful thing one can ever do. The welfare of a dependent loved one is directly linked to the well-being of the care giver. Get adequate nutrition, sleep and health care. Seek regular opportunities for respite and relaxation away from care giving duties. This will allow you to "recharge your batteries" and will prolong your ability to provide care. Seek out a support group or counselor to help you "problem-solve" and to maintain your emotional strength.
"Ten Care giver Tips" by Vicki Schmalz, PhD, reprinted in Vol. 2, #2 of the Midlands Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association Newsletter.
"Guideposts for Coping with Aged Parents" by Carter Catlett Williams, MSW., ACSW.
INTERNET WEBSITES FOR OLDER ADULTS & FAMILY CAREGIVERS
ADMINISTRATION ON AGING http://www.aoa.dhhs.gov/
Resources for the elderly and family care givers. Has a nationwide searchable directory to 230 national and local agencies, health associations, and organizations. Also provides links to regional and local Area Agencies on Aging.
AGE NET http://www.agenet.com/
Information about, and referral to programs and services for older adults and family caregivers. Includes a list of geriatricians in each state.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF RETIRED PERSONS http://www.aarp.org/
Information/advocacy for older adults and caregivers, and links to state and local chapters.
ANSWERS 4 FAMILIES http://www.answers4families.org/
Information about community resources in Nebraska for older adults and family caregivers, educational articles and links to local, state and national web sites.
BENEFITS CHECKUP http://www.benefitscheckup.org/
Provides a questionnaire to complete which will guide the user to a personalized list of financial benefit programs and community resources.
Information, support and inspirations to persons who provide care for aging relatives.
CARE PATHWAYS http://www.carepathways.com/
Information on health maintenance and home care for the elderly, as well as other caregiving information. Provides links to local care resources.
CHILDREN OF AGING PARENTS http://www.caps4caregivers.org/
Non-profit organization that offers reliable information, referrals and support to family caregivers.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS http://www.va.gov/
The official website of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Information on eligibility and application for health, disability, pension and death benefits.
ELDER CARE ONLINE http://www.ec-online.net/
Information, on-line articles, chat groups and local & national web site links for caregivers.
ELDER WEB http://www.elderweb.com/
Information and resources for family and professional caregivers.
FAMILY CAREGIVER ALLIANCE http://www.caregiver.org/
Information, support and bibliography for family caregivers.
FRIENDLY 4 SENIORS http://www.friendly4seniors.com/
Searches the Internet for useful sites for seniors and their loved ones.
HEALTH AND AGE.COM http://www.healthandage.com/
Comprehensive information to seniors and family caregivers on geriatric health conditions, prevention tips and treatment options.
The website for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It provides links to online publications, clearinghouses, databases, web sites, and support and self‑help groups, as well as government agencies and not‑for‑profit organizations that produce reliable information for the public.
LIVING STRATEGIES http://www.livingstrategies.com/
Information about professional care management services. Has a state-by-state directory of professional care managers.
Information about Medicare and the latest inspection reports for all nursing homes.
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ELDER LAW ATTORNEYS http://www.naela.org/
State-by-state directory of attorneys who specialize in elder law issues.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF AREA AGENCIES ON AGING http://www.n4a.org/
Links to state and local Area Agencies on Aging.
NATIONAL ALZHEIMER'S ASSOCIATION http://www.alz.org/
The Alzheimer's Association is dedicated to funding research into the causes, treatments, prevention and cure of Alzheimer's disease and to providing support to persons with the disease, their families and caregivers.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSIONAL GERIATRIC CARE MANAGERS http://www.caremanager.org/
Information about professional care management services. Has a state-by-state directory of professional care managers.
NATIONAL CENTER ON ELDER ABUSE http://www.ncea.aoa.gov/
Information about, and links to state and local resources for elder abuse.
NATIONAL COUNCIL ON THE AGING http://www.ncoa.org/
Information and publications on community resources and public policy issues.
NATIONAL FAMILY CAREGIVER ASSOCIATION http://www.nfcacares.org/
Information, advocacy, education and support for caregivers.
NATIONAL GUARDIANSHIP ASSOCIATION http://www.guardianship.org/
Provides educational, training, and networking opportunities for guardians and promotes values, ethics and standards of excellence for guardianships.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH http://health.nih.gov/
Consumer information about diseases and health problems on which NIH conducts or supports research. It provides reprints of consumer‑health publications.
NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING http://www.nia.nih.gov/
Health information, publications and related links for seniors, care givers and professionals.
NEBRASKA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES http://www.hhs.state.ne.us/
Information about programs and services of DHHS, and links to statewide aging services.
SENIOR CAREGIVER SUPPORT http://www.seniorcaregiversupport.com/
Website for the Senior Caregiver Support Group in Omaha, NE. Provides information about the group, plus access to local resources.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION http://www.ssa.gov/
Official website of the Social Security Administration
WELL-SPOUSE ASSOCIATION http://www.wellspouse.org/
Information, publications, support and advocacy for caregiving spouses.
BOOKS: CARING FOR AGING ADULTS
To locate copies of these books, try public libraries and book stores (books not in stock may be special-ordered). The following internet book sellers will mail books to you, or direct you to out-of-print book finding services: http://www.amazon.com/ or http://www.bn.com/
RESPECTING YOUR LIMITS WHEN CARING FOR AGING PARENTS. Vivian E. Greenberg. Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers, 196 pgs. (1998)
KEEPING THEM HEALTHY, KEEPING THEM HOME: HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR LOVED ONES AT HOME. Ellen Caruso, RN. Health Information Press, 189 pgs. (1998)
CAREGIVING: THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEY OF LOVE, LOSS AND RENEWAL. Beth W. McLeod. John Wiley & Sons, 256 pgs. (1999)
COPING WITH YOUR DIFFICULT OLDER PARENT: A GUIDE FOR STRESSED-OUT CHILDREN. Grace Lebow et al. Avon Books, 208 pgs. (1999)
DUTIFUL DAUGHTERS: CARING FOR OUR PARENTS AS THEY GROW OLD. Jean Gould,(ed). Seal Press, 304 pgs. (1999)
SURVIVING YOUR SPOUSE'S CHRONIC ILLNESS. Chris Mc Gonigle. Prometheus Books, 179 pgs. (1999)
COMPLETE ELDERCARE PLANNER: WHERE TO START, WHICH QUESTIONS TO ASK & HOW TO FIND HELP. Joy Loverde. Crown Publishing Group, Inc., 272 pgs. (2000)
A CAREGIVER'S SURVIVAL GUIDE: HOW TO STAY HEALTHY WHEN YOUR LOVED ONE IS SICK. Kay M. Strom. Inter Varsity Press, 156 pgs. (2000)
CHANGING PLACES: A JOURNEY WITH MY PARENTS INTO THEIR OLD AGE. Judy Kramer. Putnam Publishing Group, 304 pgs. (2000)
IT TAKES MORE THAN LOVE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO TAKING CARE OF AN AGING ADULT. Anita G. Beckerman & Ruth M. Tappen. Health Professions Press, 346 pgs. (2000)
SELF-CARE FOR CAREGIVERS: A TWELVE-STEP APPROACH. Pat Samples. Hazeldon Informational and Educational Service, 220 pgs. (2000)
WHEN AGING PARENTS CAN'T LIVE ALONE: A PRACTICAL FAMILY GUIDE. Ellen Rubenson. Lowell House Publishing Co., 400 pgs. (2000)
WITH LOVE: A CAREGIVER'S JOURNAL. Marian E. Wright. iUniverse.com, Inc. 320 pgs. (2000)
ANOTHER COUNTRY: NAVIGATING THE EMOTIONAL TERRAIN OF OUR ELDERS
Mary B. Pipher. Berkley Publishing Group, 328 pgs. (2000)
MY MOTHER'S KEEPER: A MIDDLE-AGED SON'S EXPERIENCE AS A CAREGIVER Bob Apperson. Authority Press, Inc., 160 pgs. (2001)
A DAUGHTER'S LAMENT: THE TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS OF A FAMILY CAREGIVER
Eden Rosen. Xlibris Corporation. (2001)
THE COMFORT OF HOME: AN ILLUSTRATED STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE FOR CAREGIVERS
Maria Meyer and Paula Derr. Care Trust Publications. 180 pgs. (2001)
THE HOMECARE COMPANION'S QUICK TIPS FOR CAREGIVERS
Marion Karpinski & Don Thomas. Healing Arts Communications, 217 pgs. (2001)
ELDER RAGE (OR TAKE MY FATHER.....PLEASE!): HOW TO SURVIVE CARING FOR AGING PARENTS Jacqueline Marcell and Rodman Shankle. Impressive Press, 368 pgs. (2001)
ARE YOUR PARENTS ARE DRIVING YOU CRAZY? HOW TO RESOLVE THE MOST COMMON DILEMMAS WITH AGING PARENTS Joseph Ilardo. VanderWyk & Burnham Press, 240 pgs. (2001)
TAKING CARE OF PARENTS WHO DIDN'T TAKE CARE OF YOU: MAKING PEACE WITH AGING PARENTS Eleanor Cade. Hazeldon Information Education, 167 pgs. (2002)
ELDERCARE 911: THE CAREGIVER'S COMPLETE HANDBOOK FOR MAKING DECISIONS
Susan Beerman and Judith Rappaport-Musson. Prometheus Books, 450 pgs. (2002)
AND THOU SHALT HONOR: THE CAREGIVER'S COMPANION
Rosalynn Carter. Rodale Books, 464 pgs. (2003)
HANDBOOK FOR LONG DISTANCE CAREGIVERS
Bob Rosenblatt and Carol Van Steenberg, MSS. Family Caregiver Alliance (2003)
ELDERCARE FOR DUMMIES Rachelle Zukerman, Ph.D. Wiley Publishers, Inc. 384 pgs. (2003)
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR PARENTS' MONEY WHILE CARING FOR YOUR PARENTS
Sharon Burns and Raymond Forgue. McGraw-Hill Publishers, 304 pgs. (2003)
A GUIDE TO ELDER PLANNING: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF LEGALLY AND FINANCIALLY Steve Weisman. Prentice-Hall Books, 224 pgs. (2004)
THE CAREGIVERS SURVIVAL HANDBOOK: HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR AGING PARENTS WITHOUT LOSING YOURSELF
Alexis Abramson. Berkley Publishing Group, 272 pgs. (2004)
CROSSROADS AT MIDLIFE: YOUR AGING PARENTS, YOUR EMOTIONS AND YOUR SELF Frances Cohen Prayer. Praeger Publishers, 184 pgs. (2004)
THE HARD QUESTIONS FOR ADULT CHILDREN AND AGING PARENTS
Susan Piver. Gotham Books, 96 pgs. (2004)
CAREGIVING AS YOUR PARENTS AGE Linda Rhodes, Ed.D. Penguin Books, 464 pgs. (2005)
CARING FOR YOURSELF WHILE CARING FOR YOUR AGING PARENTS: HOW TO HELP, HOW TO SURVIVE.
Claire Berman. Henry Holt Pub., 272 pgs. (2005)
NAVIGATING THE JOURNEY OF AGING PARENTS: WHAT CARE RECEIVERS WANT
Cheryl Kuba. Brunner Routledge Publishers, 200 pgs. (2006)
CARING FOR YOUR AGING PARENTS: THE COMPLETE FAMILY GUIDE Hugh Delehanty & Elinor Ginzler. AARP Books, Sterling Publishing Co. 256 pgs. (2008)
Children of Aging Parents Family Caregiver Alliance
P.O. Box 167 180 Montgomery St. #1100
Richboro, PA 18954 San Francisco, CA 94104
National Family Caregivers Association The Well Spouse Association
10400 Connecticut Ave. #500 63 W. Main St., Suite H
Kensington, MD 20895-3944 Freehold, NJ 07728
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