COVID-19: After nearly two years of caregiving alone, caregivers need help

It is safe to say that COVID-19 has impacted every person in our viewing area. Some may have had a personal experience with the virus but all of us have had our ways of personal engagement altered in some way. The constant boomerang of COVID starting to wane only to be met with yet another variant has grown very tiresome. Caregivers are very weary. Many have been trying to juggle at-home work, at-home kids, and a loved one at the same time. Some made decisions to move loved ones home from long-term care settings and did what they could to cobble together care that was often challenging due to staffing shortages. Now that things are beginning to feel more normal, caregivers are emerging with a renewed need for help. If you feel you are nearing the point where you are getting burned out, look at some tips below about how you can continue to help an aging loved one live at home with assistance.

1. Know Your Limits: Evaluate the difference between your loved one's needs and your ability to assist. Caregivers often find themselves sandwiched between caring for an elder and caring for children, grandchildren, and/or a spouse as well as managing responsibilities at work. As demands grow in any particular area, other areas suffer, and eventually, the caregiver breaks down and everyone suffers. Knowing your limits means trying to anticipate the future care needs of the one you are assisting as well as the needs of your other family members.

2. Evaluate Finances: No matter how you slice it, care as we age gets expensive and it is tough to learn that private insurance and Medicare do not cover all of it. As a matter of fact, most care needs -- whether it is aging in place care or residential care -- will need to be funded out of pocket! It is so important to evaluate the finances of your loved one and determine what their monthly expenses are and how much "extra" there is to pay for additional assistance. Helping a loved one age in place also means family members need to come together and see if they have any funds they can contribute toward the effort as well.

3. Determine Care Needs: Certain chronic illnesses have "projected trajectories," meaning they typically follow a certain path of decline. If your loved one has been diagnosed with a chronic condition it is important to get the big picture from their family care physician about what to expect. When you understand what the care needs are for now and the future you can determine what you should do to help your loved one age in place. Planning ahead will help allay panic when there is a future health crisis.

Area Agencies on Aging: Area Agencies on Aging(AAAs) are offices established through the Older Americans Act that facilitates and support programs addressing the needs of older adults in a defined geographic region. In North Carolina, AAAs are located within regional Councils of Government. These agencies offer a huge variety of services specific to the county in which your loved one resides. Locally, you may wish to contact the following organizations for support and available resources:

Chatham County: Chatham Council on Aging
Durham County: Durham Center for Senior Life

Harnett County: Harnett County Department on Aging
Johnston County: Community & Senior Services of Johnston County
Orange County: Orange County Department on Aging
Wake County: Resources for Seniors

If you are caregiving for a loved one and would like to get connected with others in our community who are walking the same path, join ABC11's Caregivers Corner moderated by Nicole Clagett. The group has more than two thousand people supporting one another and sharing wonderful information and resources daily. More helpful tips about this topic can be found in ABC11's Caregivers Corner section.
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