Nearly any family caregiver has felt isolated and alone at one time or another. For many, that feeling is chronic. Friends don’t understand the strain we are under. Some people get no support from their extended family or friends. Where can we turn when there seems to be nowhere to turn? Believe it or not, many resources are at your fingertips on the Administration on Aging website.
The National Family Caregiver Support Program
The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) is one resource every caregiver should look into. The links to the NFCSP support features can be found on your state website as well as the Administration on Aging site. The NFCSP provides grants to states and territories, based on their share of the population of people aged 70 and over, to fund a range of supportive services that assist family caregivers caring for a loved one at home.
The NFCSP is one way the government has moved forward since 2000 in acknowledging the fact that families are the major provider of long-term care. Research has shown that caregiving takes a heavy emotional, physical and financial toll of families. Caregiving also presents many conflicts when it comes to time away from a paying job.
According to the NFCSP site, "Twenty two percent of caregivers are assisting two individuals, while eight percent are caring for three or more. Almost half of all caregivers are over age 50, making them more vulnerable to a decline in their own health, and one-third describe their own health as fair to poor."
What kind of help can you expect to receive from the NFCSP? States are directed to provide five types of services to caregivers:
- Information to caregivers about available services
- Assistance to caregivers in gaining access to the services
- Individual counseling, organization of support groups, and caregiver training
- Respite care
- Supplemental services on a limited basis
According to the site, These services work in conjunction with other state and community-based services to provide a coordinated set of supports. Studies have shown that these services can reduce caregiver depression, anxiety, and stress and enable them to provide care longer, thereby avoiding or delaying the need for costly institutional care."
Links to off-site resources available on Administration on Aging website
The Administration on Aging provides links to several off-site resources to elders, caregivers and professionals to important federal, state, and local programs.
- The AoA-sponsored Eldercare Locator website links you to state and local agencies on aging and community-based organizations that serve older adults and their caregivers.
- The BenefitsCheckUp website helps consumers find benefit programs that help them pay for prescription drugs, health care, rent, utilities, and other needs. It also can help you make sure your elder is getting the benefits that he or she deserves.
- The National Resources link is a part of the Eldercare Locator Website, which will help you find useful topic-specific resources for older adults, caregivers and professionals.
- Medicare.gov is the official U.S. Government Website for the latest information on Medicare enrollment, benefits, and other helpful tools.
- Long-Term Care Planning is a link that will provide a variety of services and supports to meet health or personal care needs over an extended period of time.
No one agency can help caregivers with every need. Most of us know firsthand the blessing that caregiver to caregiver support can provide. Here on HealthCentral/Alzheimer’s we offer that kind of intimate support to each other daily.
That being said, agency help is also often needed, and sometimes the information to guide us through the maze of available information is difficult to navigate. The Administration of Aging website is the place to go to bring it all together.
Administration on Aging. Retrieved from www.AoA.gov.
Carol Bradley Bursack is a veteran family caregiver who spent more than two decades caring for a total of seven elders. She is a newspaper columnist and the author of Minding Our Elders: Caregivers Share Their Personal Stories. Bradley Bursack is also a contributor to several books on caregiving and dementia, and is passionate about preserving the dignity of elders. Her website is www.mindingourelders.com. Follow Carol on Twitter @mindingourelder and on Facebook at Minding Our Elders.