As this whirlwind year winds down and we look ahead to plans for 2022, many of us have family caregiving at the top of our minds. Spending the holidays with Mom and Dad may have convinced you that they need more help, or you might have realized that Aunt Betsy is unhappy with her current care providers. Whatever the situation is, when you commit to becoming a family caregiver, it’s never easy determining who and where to turn for help. And if you’re already trying to provide care for a loved one, it’s easy feel overwhelmed.
You may be wondering:
- Am I doing enough as a caregiver?
- How do I balance being a caregiver with my own family life?
- How do I split up caregiving responsibilities with my siblings?
We’re here to help. Support groups are a vital resource for caregivers, and our Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group (which meets monthly at our Willow Gardens Memory Care facility in New Rochelle), for example, is an ideal place to find practical advice, learn about community resources, and improve coping skills. We also offer respite care, which provides short-term care for elderly patients when family caregivers are unavailable or need a break.
Caregiving Resources: What to Know
There are more resources than ever before to aid family caregivers. As the elderly population continues to increase, more and more Americans are living longer, needing increased care—and their caregivers have become a larger group that also needs assistance. Many businesses and organizations have popped up to fill the need, and the pandemic-induced pivot to remote communication has paved the way for additional advice, resources, and support available to caregivers around the country, as reported in a recent story in the Wall Street Journal. Being able to connect and get input from experts anywhere in the United States—via Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Live, etc.—can be a helpful addition to resources right here in Westchester.
Family caregiver advice and assistance are widely available from:
- government agencies
- healthcare consortiums
- caregiving consultancies
- support groups
Explore these family caregiver resources
Whether you have general questions about caregiving or need specific strategic advice on navigating one or more aspects of care, these valuable resources for family caregivers can help:
- AARP’s Family Caregiver hub is a great resource offering a wide range of information and support, including its Family Caregiver Discussion Group on Facebook, which provides a place to connect, share practical tips, offer support, and discuss family caregiving experiences. Their site also includes relatable stories of other families in family caregiving situations; tips for assessing whether your loved one requires caregiving assistance; and even advice on products and services that can help older adults feel more comfortable at home.
- The Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services’ Family Caregiver Support Program offers a variety of services and guidance including caregiver consultations, educational programs, and faith-based outreach. Another valuable asset is the County’s Caregiver Coaching Program, which provides families with one-on-one support to help them better understand their role as a caregiver. The coaches are all local Westchesterites who have experienced family caregiving and are well-versed in the role as well as the landscape of locally available resources.
- Family Ties of Westchester is another local organization with a wealth of aid for family caregivers. Their roster of support groups, workshops, and coaching sessions are all aimed at boosting caregiver confidence and knowledge.
- Westchester Medical Center’s Caregiver Center supports caregivers who have a family member receiving medical attention at the Valhalla medical facilities. The Center’s aim is to provide support while family members are hospitalized, and also to help connect family caregivers to an array of free services and community resources for further assistance.
- Virtual support options have increased dramatically since the start of the pandemic. Consultancies like Sustainable Caregiving serve families from across the country who are going through the caregiving journey and are seeking advice without leaving home. Founder Theresa Wilbanks launched a series of helpful videos tackling everything from preparing for caregiving to managing caregiver stress and setting boundaries as a caregiver. Wilbanks also offers free virtual consultations to discuss the various services she offers.
- The ongoing webinars offered by Family Caregiver Alliance are another virtual support option, offering strategies and resources for those caregivers supporting a loved one with a chronic or disabling health condition. Recent webinar topics have included a series on COVID-related issues for caregivers as well as tech tools for caregivers and estate planning strategies.
It’s also crucial for caregivers to remember that self-care is vital in order to avoid burnout. Experts advise caregivers to keep up with favorite hobbies and continue to carve out personal time away from the loved one they are caring for. After all, it’s impossible to give effective care if you’re not taking care of yourself effectively. And, during the many stressful times that occur throughout the caretaking lifecycle, it’s important to remember that available resources, guidance, and support can go a long way to easing the journey.