What Can You Do?
It is important to do all we can to support caregivers so they can continue in their roles.
Specifically, it is important to:
- Identify and help caregivers who are most at risk for deteriorating health, financial security, and quality of life so that they can continue to provide care while maintaining their own well being;
- Identify and advocate for programs that make a real difference in caregivers’ well being and in their ability to continue providing care;
- Identify and promote the use of technologies that can facilitate caregiving
- Extend the reach of caregiver programs to all caregivers regardless of the age of their care recipient;
- Encourage families to plan proactively for aging and potential health/ disability issues.
- The existence of caregiver support services is NOT sufficient to ensure they are used!
- Caregivers need to be MADE AWARE OF THEIR EXISTENCE through concerted communication efforts.
- Caregivers may also need ENCOURAGEMENT TO INITIALLY TRY whatever services are offered.
- Further, the programs NEED TO BE AFFORDABLE!
Key Elements for Programs Supporting Caregiver Health:
- Save caregivers’ time
- Allow them to exercise, eat better, go to the doctor, or simply rest
- Relieve them from caregiver responsibilities for any period of time
- Clearly gives caregivers “extra” time to look after themselves, but it also gives them a temporary break from the worry and responsibility they shoulder. Nearly all caregivers wish for a significant amount of respite.
- Reduce their level of stress
- Gaining time and receiving respite can reduce caregiver stress, but so can programs that increase caregivers’ confidence in their caregiving or help them make difficult decisions about caregiving. A reduction in stress would lead to a decline in the stress-related physical problems that caregivers endure, from high blood pressure to acid reflux.
- Make them feel cared about, valued
- Caregivers are so used to caring about other people and have so little time and energy to take care of themselves that they would be responsive to someone who cares about their well being. Such a caring person could influence them to take better care of themselves or possibly give them the confidence to make tough decisions about what they do as caregivers.