BEING A CAREGIVER for an ailing parent, spouse, child or other loved one can be a lonely undertaking.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Even if you don’t have family nearby, help is available from various organizations in most areas. Taking the time to look into these could save you much more time in the future, not to mention stress reduction.
Here are 10 types of services you might want to check out:
1. Adult day services. These programs offer comprehensive packages of assistance, though what’s in the package varies from place to place. Services may include transportation, nursing care, meals, personal care (such as help with bathing or toilet use), social opportunities, or rehabilitative activities. Such facilities are immensely helpful if your loved one needs supervision or assistance with daily activities, health care, or social support for physical or cognitive impairments. Typically, adult day services are open during normal business hours. Some offer evening and weekend hours.
I googled “adult day services Berkeley” (I live in Berkeley, CA) and found several listings including the Alameda County Adult Day Services Network through which you can find a variety of different organizations and services.
2. Certified nurses aides. Trained aides can help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and personal care. Please note that they are not nurses, and so they can’t administer medications.
Googling “certified nurses aides Berkeley” wasn’t so useful, because most of the listing promote schools where you can get this type of training and certification. There is a shortage here, I think. However, you can find up to four free listing of home caregiving agencies in your area by filling out a form on the website caring.com.
3. Hired companions and homemakers. You may want to hire someone to help with meals, shopping, and laundry; supervise activity; and provide companionship and transportation. Some people may also be willing to help with personal care. An informal arrangement — such as a college student who lives in a home and provides help in exchange for rent — can work well. Just make sure it is someone you know well and can trust.
4. Home health aides. These aides perform personal services such as bathing and dressing, and may do light housekeeping. Again, trust is important.
5. Meal programs. Numerous organization including senior centers, community groups and religious organizations provide meal programs for seniors and for people with disabilities.
I found a surprising number of these programs in my area by entering my zip code in the “Find a Meal” page on the Meals on Wheels Association of America website.
6. Case managers. Some hospitals and health insurance plans assign case managers to oversee and coordinate health care. Case managers are often registered nurses or social workers. They help coordinate services, keep tabs on a patient’s progress, and communicate with the patient, caregiver, family, clinicians, and key departments, such as billing.
I wondered if Medicare pays for this service and according to what I could find out it only pays for case management “delivered within some settings” such as hospitals, rehabilitation or long-term care facilities.
7. Nurses. Real nurses, not the “certified nursing aides” above, offer skilled nursing care, such as inserting intravenous lines, cleaning wounds, and changing bandages. They can also administer medications.
If the person you are caring for is at the point where they need a real nurse, their doctor is the best resource for this.
8. Physical, occupational, or speech therapists. These trained professionals may do in-home therapy sessions.
I couldn’t find any physical, occupational or speech therapists in my area who do house visits but I found dozens of places to go for these services. Perhaps, if you want to save time, taking the person you care for to therapy could be one of the jobs you assign to a hired companion (#3 above).
9. Respite care workers. These saintly people provide caregivers with time off from their caregiving duties.
10. Transportation Services. Many communities offer free or low-cost transportation to medical appointments for seniors or people who are disabled. Other potential sources of free or low-cost transportation help are religious and community organizations, such as churches or synagogues, councils on aging, and senior centers.
The “Aging Services Division” of the city of Berkeley has transportation services for seniors to and from senior centers, and there is also a wheel-chair van program, and even a “taxi script” program that provides “a limited amount of free scrip (i.e., temporary paper money) to pay for rides on conventional taxicabs, wheelchair-accessible taxicabs, vans, and other selected vehicles.”
At Unfrazzle, our mission is to help caregivers by giving them tools and information to reduce the stress of caregiving. The information above is hopefully one such example. Another is our free iPhone and Android app, which reduces stress by helping you remember, keep track of and share caregiving tasks.
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