Caregiver Resources and Help For Caregivers And Aging Adults

Caregivers and aging adults benefit from caregiver resources, help for caregivers and hope to navigate caregiving situations. By becoming more informed and knowing available caregiver resources and help, caregiving situations can run more smoothly. Knowing about caregiver resources and help reduces the frustration that exists by caregivers and aging adults in finding reliable and trusted information.

Because of the stress of caregiving situations, both caregivers and aging adults quickly lose hope that conditions can be managed or improved. Many caregivers and aging adults give up searching for help and become isolated. Opportunities that could have provided support are ignored or missed.

Time Pressures Make It Difficult to Attend In-Person Caregiver Resources and Support Groups

Caregivers lack time. Adult children caregivers work, have their own families, and schedules. This time pressure makes it difficult to attend in person caregiver resource and caregiver support groups. Caring for aging parents can feel overwhelming. Family caregivers who make time to find caregiver resources and help experience lower stress and feel more in control of caregiving situations.

Crises In The Rearview Window

Caregiver resources and help have the potential to make caregiving situations easier but may be viewed by busy caregivers as “one more thing to do” that is not a necessity. That is until a caregiving crisis occurs.

An aging parent breaks a hip and is in the hospital. There is no plan for what happens next. The parent cannot return home. Aging children cannot take time off work to care for the aging parent. What now?

At the time of crises, the view from the caregiving rearview mirror is:

  • “I should have asked for help.”
  • “Why didn’t I take that course?”
  •  “I feel guilty this happened.”
  •  “I should have known.”

A lack of knowledge exists in the caregiving world about what it takes to make smart choices and decisions. In crises, decision making is rushed. Caregivers and aging adults make Ill-informed decisions.  This revolving door of what now, what next, results in ongoing crises and low standards of care for loved ones.

Being A Caregiver Is Like Having A New Job

The first day on any new job can be nerve-wracking. New responsibilities and people to get to know. New skills to learn and on the job training.

At least at a new job, there is a person–who may or may not be the supervisor–to help the new employee. In caregiving, there is no trainer or training.

Caregivers are thrust into caregiving situations as the result of a 3 a.m. emergency phone call or another accident. Because the caregiver already has a full life, time devoted to caregiving puts a Band-Aid on a situation that may be quickly going downhill.

Prayers are said, hoping that caregiving will get easier. Prayers and daily action is the way to finding a path forward to identify caregiver resources and help.    

Being Proactive To Avoid Crises Feels Unimportant

Because caregiving is new ground for aging adults and their caregivers, being proactive to avoid crises feels unimportant. If the caregiver or the aging parent brings up the subject of talking about caregiving, the matter is pushed aside for something else that feels more important.

Caregivers, spouses, and aging parents may disagree about the need for help. This disagreement results in conflict within families about getting help and support. Caregiver resources and help provide support for difficult family situations where agreement may be common.

Caregivers who need help, especially men, are embarrassed to admit they can’t manage caregiving. There is a sense of insecurity about acknowledging that one doesn’t know everything or may be perceived by others as unable to handle a situation.

Caregivers Need Emotional Support to Survive Caregiving

Hesitation exists about joining a caregiving support group or taking a class. What happens if other people know that a caregiver can’t do it all. Not being able to do it all is the reality of caregiving. It is impossible for caregivers to do it all and not compromise emotional well-being and physical health.

Caregivers become sicker than the persons for whom they care. Until one has been a caregiver, it is impossible to know what happens on a day to day basis. It is impossible to empathize with the level of responsibility and stress. Caregiver support and help give caregivers confidence that they are not going crazy and that the emotions they experience are normal in caregiving situations.

Caregivers are often “shamed” by persons unfamiliar with caregiving. Caregivers told that caregiving could not be that stressful — that the caregiver has a duty and responsibility to care for a loved one – emotionally shut down. The world becomes a smaller place when few understand the life of a caregiver. Isolation and loneliness occur. Hope is lost.

It is rare that a caregiver disagrees with the responsibility. It is more common that caregivers need emotional support and empathy to continue with the day to day grind of being a caregiver. Caregiver support and resources provide much-needed answers and emotional support.

Time for Hard-Hitting and Honest Caregiving Discussions

Aging adults and parents want to remain independent but eventually, need help. They don’t want to be a burden to the family. 

An aging parent or a spouse may deny that they need help—even though they do—which makes it more difficult for the caregiver to get help when help, according to the aging parent is not a need. The parent may not feel that he or she needs help, while the caregiver may believe that he or she is drowning in caregiving responsibility or duty.

It is for this reason, opposing opinions about caregiving situations and why caregiver resources, help, and caregiver support groups are all the more beneficial. A good support group or course offers hard-hitting, honest discussions about the importance of taking off the rose-colored glasses and talking about caregiving.

Caregivers Need Emotional Support As Much as Caregiving Hope 

Pamela’s caregiver support groups offer a no judgment, no guilt environment plus permission to express honest feelings. According to Pamela, “In my caregiving groups, participants realize that having candid conversations that may be difficult for the caregiver and the aging adult to hear are necessary to move situations forward.”

Feelings become bruised. However, through the process, it becomes easier to acknowledge what might be working or not working. By identifying these gaps, caregiving situations can transform from stressful and worrisome to more confident and less frantic.

The Internet is a Blessing and A Barrier For Caregivers Who Want Support

Aging adults are hesitant to trust Internet sites because of the concern of having their information shared with others. National placement and referral sites sell access to consumer data.

These sites then share contact information to national or local companies who call caregivers and aging adults who shared their information, but who didn’t realize the frequency at which they would be contacted. These resources are not true support but sales websites offering services and products.

Caregiver resources, caregiver support groups, and help for caregivers are more frequently offered by caregiving experts who seek to improve specific areas of caregiving. Caregiver support and help may target broad subjects or more specific topics like Pamela’s course Stay at Home and Power of Attorney.

How To Recognize Internet Referral and Information Sites

How do consumers tell the difference between referral sites and reliable caregiving resources? For the most part, referral sites are sites with multiple advertisers or businesses visible on the site. Advertisements appear at the top of the page, in the right column, or other areas on the page.  

Sites say, “we can contact you with someone who can help,” or “we can contact you with a local expert.” By seeing the site report “we can contact you with” this confirms that the site is not the expert but an agent or a middleman who markets and sells the services of others.

The Difference Between Experts and Internet Referral Sites

Experts or businesses whose sole purpose is to serve consumers or clients are more likely not to have–or not to allow advertising from other companies. The difference would be a disclosed business relationship or partnership that may be of benefit to the consumer.

One example might be an elder law firm that works with a financial planning firm that works with a caregiving expert, like me. Because caregiving involves care, the legal aspects of power of attorney, and the financial aspect of paying for care, this may be a partnership that makes sense and can be of value to consumers.

Where caregiver resouces and help are combined by reputable and trusted companies, consumers benefit. These partnerships ease the stress of caregiving by having caregiver resources and help grouped together in one easy to find and easy to use source of support.

Moving From Being In A Care Situation To Taking Action to Improve A Care Situation – Are Two Different Things

Many of us go through life without feeling that we have the power or the energy to improve situations. Caregiving involves time limitations. The lifetime of a loved one needing care is limited by the conditions of health and other factors. If no action or the wrong action occurs, health will continue to decline, and death will occur.

The reality of life is that we will all die, sooner or later. The benefit of caregiving support is that the life of a spouse or aging parent can be of better quality. Meaningful relationships between family members can occur so that there are no regrets when loved ones are no longer alive.

Few aging adults that I know say that they want to suffer or have a poor quality of life in retirement years. Few aging adults and caregivers know how to make this happen when health complications occur. Caregiver resources and help provide a path forward for caregivers and aging adults who want to better a care situation.

The Health Care System Complicates The Ability of Aging Adults to Receive Care

This is complicated by the fact that the healthcare system is biased against care for aging adults. Preference is given to medical care and treatment for the young, not for the aged.

Family caregivers emotionally and physically drained from the responsibilities of caregiving may be timid, apathetic, or not know how to advocate at all. This apathy or a lack of skills leaves a spouse or aging parent in a vulnerable position because of being unable to care and to advocate for themselves.

Identifying Caregiving Gaps

Caregivers struggle to keep up. Balance in life between work, family, friends, and enjoyable activities becomes lost. Time spent as a caregiver steals valuable time from other parts of life.

While caregiving is a commitment in both responsibility and time—it does not have to be a struggle or a commitment viewed as miserable. I counsel caregivers in my courses to look at what is not working in the care situation.

Identifying what is working and what is not working makes it easier to see where improvements in care situations might occur. These not working gaps may be skill gaps, learning gaps, or relationships gaps.

Once known, Pamela works with caregivers and aging adults to work through the gaps to improve caregiving situations. The caregiver resources and help offered in her courses are the results of more than 20 years of practical caregiving experience.  

Caregiving Takes Unique and Broad Skills

Caregiving takes many skills that the average person, unless exceptional, does not have. Caregiving takes the skills of time management, project management, managing teams, advocacy, motivation, negotiation, navigation, coordination, and collaboration. Add to this healthcare, legal, and financial knowledge.

Smart Choices and Decisions Are Difficult To Make in the World of Caregiving

Caregiving stress clogs the brain. The skills of organizing and remembering tasks become more difficult. The mind is easily distracted. Gaining clarity to make good decisions is difficult. Caregiving burnout results in many caregivers making poor decisions that have severe consequences for the person receiving care.

Caregivers who try to get through each day find it easier to be single-minded about tasks and to block out life. Burned out caregivers block out the possibility of finding hope and help. Suggestions from others fall on deaf ears because of an inability to see the potential that a situation may improve.

Decision making can be made easier by accessing caregiver resources and support. The sharing between caregivers that occurs in these groups offers valuable information for all caregivers and aging adults who participate and share their stories.

Rising from Feeling Hopeless and Helpless

It can take an act of God or a care situation advancing to rock bottom for some caregivers and aging adults to take a step forward to gain hope and help. Negativity and the attitude of “that won’t work,” is prevalent in caregiving situations where attempts have been made to improve conditions but have failed.

Because the skills needed for caregiving are many, repeated attempts to do the same thing occurs, with the same result. This raises frustration levels in caregiving even higher — hopelessness and helplessness is the result.

When caregivers are in the thick of things, it is impossible to see how taking a different action might improve a situation. Caregiver support can help caregivers to become more open-minded.

Caregiving Support Groups and Courses Can Help

While individual counseling is beneficial. If caregivers hear stories of action and hope from other caregivers in the course, expert suggestions are validated. The goal of a caregiving expert is to facilitate communication between caregivers to allow sharing and raise problem-solving to a higher level.

As in all situations where learning is involved, the teacher can teach, but the student will not learn until he is she is motivated and ready. Motivation sometimes comes from misery.

In other situations, motivation comes from a person who has been proactive and knows the difference and the value between waiting to react and getting ahead to manage and feel more in control.

Caregivers Want Hope When What They Need Is Help to Take Action

Caregivers need help. What some want is another to wave a magic wand and transform the situation into something more comfortable and manageable. While we all would love to have this happen, magic wands are few, prayers are helpful, but action is required.

Pamela’s Caregiver Resources, Help For Caregivers and Caregiver Support Online Courses

Through Pamela’s caregiver resources,  help for caregivers, and caregiver support online courses, she helps caregivers and aging adults transform caregiving situations. Caregiving situations transform from worrisome to confident. Transformation happens by reducing struggle and finding more balance in caregiving. Both the aging adult and the caregiver feels more in control because caregiving and communication skills have improved.

More information is available about Pamela’s Power of Attorney Course and Pamela’s Stay at Home Course in the How I Help section on the website. 

About Pamela Wilson

PAMELA D. WILSON, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA helps caregivers and aging adults solve caregiving problems and manage caregiving needs through online programs, live support groups, and an extensive caregiving library that includes articles, podcasts, videos, and webinars.

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