Family caregivers new to the challenges of caring for loved ones are often learning as they go.
As you may know, November is National Family Caregivers Month, when we call attention to and celebrate the hard work of the more than 50 million family caregivers across the country. Every year since 1994, this important national awareness month has been recognized around the country thanks to the work of Caregiver Action Network (National Family Caregivers Association). Thank you, caregivers!
At SimpliHere, everything we do is aimed at supporting family and professional caregivers — we see you, and we salute you! We are proud to help raise awareness of the incredible contributions caregivers make to individuals and families they support and to our society and world.
As you can guess, as founder of SimpliHere and a former familial caregiver myself, I talk often with people in my own social circles about the challenges of caregiving, particularly when they have been thrust into the role themselves. A 2022 study by Fidelity found that more than half of caregivers of loved ones with disabilities had little time to prepare before assuming the responsibility.
This month, I wanted to share a bit about one conversation I had recently with a friend, whose elderly father has lost his mobility and now relies on a wheelchair. We talked about some of the biggest challenges her parents and she, as one of her father’s caretakers, are facing. These are some scenarios she and her family are facing and suggestions on how to tackle each.
Challenge #1: My friend shared that she and her family are struggling with learning which supports they qualify for within their home state, including which level of state-supported care they qualify for and are entitled to. They are also struggling with navigating the financial impacts of accessing that care due to savings, retirement plans, real estate, life insurance, and other assets.
While every state is different, a good place to get started is with the NIH’s National Institute on Aging, which has developed many helpful tools for caregivers that includes financial planning resources and access to the Eldercare Locator database, among others. Many financial firms offer financial planning and savings tools, as well.
Challenge #2 My friend also shared that they are struggling with managing her father’s many clinical appointments (in his case, her father’s appointments include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and visits by a home health aid).
One suggestion is to have family commit to asking all of their caregivers and family caregivers to leverage an app, like SimpliHere, to create a care circle that includes all stakeholders, facilitates communication, and tracks their activity.
Challenge #3 My friend also described the challenges faced by many of our elders with accessing the vast amounts of information available to them on the internet.
As shared by many who have been in this situation, it’s critical to engage family and professional caregivers in the important role of stepping forward as a partner and information gathering facilitator alongside their loved one, helping navigate the internet and proactively look for sites and apps that help find and consolidate information and facilitate communication.
I hope that by sharing my conversation this month, we at SimpliHere are helping to spread awareness of helpful resources and tips, and also to reassure you that you, the members of our community, are not alone. This National Family Caregivers Month, I sincerely hope you feel the appreciation and love, and that you are able to take a moment to celebrate yourself and all of your important contributions.
P.S. We also want to share a great opportunity to check out the virtual global premier of Unseen, a new documentary about parent caregivers aimed at increasing the visibility of caregiving issues, educating communities, and increasing support for caregivers!