Do you have a loved one in your family cared for by a member of the family? Are you celebrating your family caregiver during the month of November? You should because it is National Family Caregivers Awareness Month. Did you know that family caregivers provide a crucial amount of both paid and unpaid care to aging loved ones in the state of Florida? In fact, across the nation, there are over 53 million family caregivers hard at work providing care to family, friends, and neighbors.
In honor of this annual event, we would like to take the time to recognize all Florida family caregivers. We are very aware that the caregiver’s goal is to provide excellent care for his or her loved one but we also need to make sure our caregivers are caring for themselves, as well. Even though they may not want to focus on themselves, their health is critical. We would like to share six ways to help a family caregiver that you and anyone who knows a caregiver could implement right now.
1. Caregivers need to take care of their own health. As stated above, one of the biggest challenges facing family caregivers is taking care of themselves. The demands of caring for dependent loved ones can be so overwhelming that caregivers often end up putting their loved one’s needs before their own. This putting off of self care by a caregiver may result in burnout, exhaustion, and poor mental and physical health. Sadly this hurts both the caregiver and the dependent loved one.
2. Caregivers need to proactively find support. It is very important for family caregivers to seek and obtain support. For example you could: move closer to family who can help you with your caregiving responsibilities, plan respite breaks to keep a healthy life-caregiving balance or seek guidance from an online care community. By taking the initiative to ask for help, caregiving will have a better outcome.
3. Caregivers need to be sure to organize all medical information in regard to their loved one. Family caregivers should create and maintain a comprehensive file pertaining to their dependent loved one’s needs. It should be updated often and include important documents regarding medical history, medications and insurance.
4. Caregivers should look into using technology. Did you know that technology can vastly improve a family caregiver’s ability to manage his or her care responsibilities? For example, a GPS app on your smartphone could help keep track of an elder loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease. There are also apps that could help organize medications, medical appointments and daily tasks.
5. Caregivers need to get outside and enjoy themselves. Did you know that just a few minutes outside everyday can do wonders for your mental health. Not only is there a small break from the loved one you are caring for but the Vitamin D can do wonders. If it is possible, bring your loved one out, as well.
6. Caregivers need to make sure all legal documents for their loved ones are up-to-date and available. We know that the majority of a caregiver’s time is spent with daily tasks of bathing, meal preparation and doctor’s appointments. However, often family caregivers are in the position of managing a loved one’s finances and legal affairs. In addition, they have to secure up-to-date legal documents, like a power of attorney, in order to have the ability to pay bills, navigate insurance policies and secure government benefits. If you are a family caregiver or you know someone who is a family caregiver in need of legal documents or updating them for a loved one, he or she should contact an experienced Florida elder law attorney for guidance.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. The experienced team of attorneys here at Hemness Faller, The Law Office formerly known as Emma Hemness, P.A., are here for you and your family and we want to be YOUR estate planning and elder law attorneys. After all, we are ordinary people, providing extraordinary guidance backed by years of experience and advocacy for the vulnerable citizens in our community. We encourage you to contact us and schedule a meeting with us.