Programs Offered by Caregiving Experts Improve Caregiver Confidence and the Ability to Manage Daily Challenges and Care Needs

By Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, NCG, CSA

Caregiving support programs offered by caregiving advocates and experts are valuable and deliver results. Improved confidence in the ability to manage daily challenges and care needs occurs. Lower stress and anxiety result. Freedom from feeling that caregivers and care receivers run from one crisis to the next is balanced by problem solving and planning. Many committed caregivers experience burnout and exhaustion. Support groups offer information and camaraderie that is often absent from caregivers who have become isolated as the result of caregiving responsibilities.

The daily lives of caregivers and care receivers are unpredictable and anxiety filled. Feelings of being invisible, isolated, and unprepared are common. The sense that caregivers and care receivers continually battle a healthcare system, that acts more like a barrier than a support, is real. My twenty plus years of caregiving advocacy substantiates the challenges of caregiving and care receiving.

Caregiving support exists in many forms. Some programs are informational in nature. Access to specific programming varies from information and referral, to in person and family counseling and support groups, and then progresses to the convenience of on-line support groups and direct expert contact.

On-line support is beneficial for those who are time constrained, limited by travel, prefer access 24 hours a day 7 days a week, or who live in remote areas with few or limited services. On-line support is available by way of automated forums, monitored forums, live expert programming and expert communication.

Different support needs exist for caregivers beginning the journey versus caregivers of many years. Needs for support increase as the severity of health concerns and medical diagnoses advance. Caregiver support for individuals with physical disabilities differs from support for individuals with cognitive diagnoses like brain injuries, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease. Adult children caregivers have different needs from spousal caregivers. Care receivers have the same differentiation of support needs based on their living situation, diagnoses, or physical needs.

A variety of programs exists to meet the specific needs of caregivers and receivers and the desire for the type of access and presentation of information and materials. Each need has variables that progress from the early stages of caregiving and care receiving to end of life. Below is information about a variety of to help you decide the type of assistance that best fits your needs and situation.

Information and Referral Programs

Information and referral programs are the most common and the most available. Caregivers and care receivers dial a number or visit a government or non-profit office to receive brochures, articles, and lists of contact information. Information and referral programs are usually free of charge. This experience is similar to being given an encyclopedia of information for further investigation. The caregiver and care receiver then contact resources to ask information about available services and resources. Information and referral programs are appropriate for individuals who have time to research information and services and for those who do not have immediate or time sensitive needs.

Community Workshops, Educational Forums, and Lectures

Community workshops, educational forums, or lectures provided as a government service, and by public, private, and non-profit organizations offer topical information on a variety of subjects. These programs are usually free of charge or may have a nominal fee to cover the cost of materials provided.

This type of programming is provided by local health, financial, or legal organizations or through churches and other helping organizations. I have attended and presented at workshops and forums organized by the Alzheimer’s Association, the Colorado Bar Association, fiduciary and healthcare groups, care communities, and many related organizers desiring to provide a community service. Presenters, like myself, are individuals offering services in a specific area. Expertise is shared in return for exposure to program attendees.

Individual and Family Counseling

Individual and family counseling programs are provided at no charge or may be charged and reimbursed by health insurance. These programs are provided by government and public organizations or by private providers. Counseling services may be provided by licensed therapists, social workers, care managers, or healthcare advocates.

During the years I was a care manager, I met with many individuals and family members to assess situations and make care recommendations. This service was within the scope of my business and an area in which I possess many years of extensive expertise.

When researching these programs, ask about the specialty of the therapist, social worker, or other providers so that you are able to confirm expertise in the area of your needs. Ask about the educational background and years of experience of the provider to gain confidence that your expected goal will be met. The goal of these type of programs is background research, assessment, and facilitation of discussions with the goal of the caregiver and care receiver deciding to implement steps to move forward.

Caregiving Experts Offer Real Support & Real Answers

The roles of caregiver and care receiver are filled with emotional ups and downs. The roles are also filled with significant responsibility to act as a financial and medical advocate. These roles require interacting with healthcare and related providers who at times seem like barriers to receiving better than average care.

Caregivers and care receivers serve as the source of information for the healthcare system for current and past health histories, surgeries, allergies, medications, and more. The time and effort involved to manage and coordinate care needs, depending on each situation, can approach the time and perceived burden of being a part-time or full-time job. The skill of advocacy is important to receive better than average care.

Specific programming is beneficial to achieve the goal of receiving better than average care. Advocacy is rarely a natural skill but is a learned skill. Expert programming specific to healthcare advocacy, caregiving, and care receiver issues is targeted to specific needs. Family members also lack an understanding of the fiduciary role of medical and financial power of attorney. Many times a name is placed in a document with little or no discussion about the responsibilities of these roles.

These issues include managing the emotional ups and downs of care relationships, identifying reasons for refusal of care, identifying memory loss, the decision to take away the car keys, and other difficult situations that must be managed day to day. Many variables exist in care situations and many are unexpected and unplanned.

Caregiving experts with years of direct experience offer real support and real answers to complicated care situations. As caregivers and care receivers know, family situations advance to require more complicated problem solving and decision making. Ancillary services like estate planning, financial planning, or tax planning may be necessary. Caregiving expert programming offers expertise in broad areas beneficial to caregivers and care receivers. This type of expertise has a goal of educating and teaching caregivers and care receivers to be more effective advocates in their roles.

Caregiving expert programming and caregiving expertise transfers to the idea: give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. Learning the skill of advocacy supports achieving desired results for caregivers and care receivers. Expert programming is ideal for caregivers and care receivers who want to increase confidence and the ability to manage daily challenges and care needs.

Where to start? Starting by reviewing available information about the caregiving expert. Review the expert’s website, read articles, watch videos, request a free newsletter or access to free subscription information. Attend an online webinar or sign up for a live session to gain confidence and a sense of comfort that the expert has the experience you seek. Check out the website to see if the website is owned by the expert and offers programming. The website may be a large agency primarily supported by advertising dollars that then offers related caregiving information. Choose which best fits your need.

Then, jump in, and immerse yourself. Learn big, gain confidence, and expand your skills. Lowering stress and anxiety, achieving life balance, reducing the frequency of crises situations and improving your physical and emotional health are only a few of the benefits of taking charge of your caregiving and care receiving role.

These results and more are possible for caregivers and care receivers. I am living proof. Since 1999, I’ve survived and successfully managed the situations that caregivers and care receivers experience each day when you wake up in the morning and fall into bed exhausted each night. Godspeed on your caregiving and care receiving journey. Visit my website and let me know how I may be of support.

© 2018 Pamela D. Wilson, All Rights Reserved.

Pamela D. Wilson, MS, BS/BA, CG, CSA, a National Certified Guardian and Certified Senior Advisor, is a caregiving and elder care expert, advocate, and speaker. Pamela offers family caregivers programming and support to navigate the challenges of providing, navigating, and planning for care. She guides professionals practicing in estate planning, elder and probate law, and financial planning to create plans to address unexpected concerns identified in her past role as a professional fiduciary. Healthcare professionals are supported by Pamela’s expertise to increase responsiveness and sensitivity to the extensive range of care challenges faced by care recipients and caregivers.

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