Whether it's asking a friend or using the national database, there are many ways to find the help you need.
- Posted on Oct 12, 2018
Jennifer Cardellini is the Director for Consumer Information at Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging.
When you start caring for a loved one with a chronic health condition, it’s often hard to ask for help, and you may not even know where to begin. Finding information or resources can be overwhelming and time-consuming, especially when you are just learning what your loved one needs.
You may not know who to ask for support and sometimes it can feel embarrassing—you might think that everyone else knows exactly how to handle caring for family members, but that’s not the case. Of course, you can always search online, but how do you know which websites to trust? Where do you get accurate information that’s relevant to your situation?
Although it’s challenging to find the information you need, finding the right resources can make a big difference as you take care of a friend or family member.
Fortunately, there are resources available, no matter where you live, to help as you take on this responsibility.
1. Discover your local Area Agency on Aging
Did you know that there are local agencies all across the country designed to provide services and support to older people and their families? These 622 local agencies were created under the Older Americans Act and provide five core services, including services and support for caregivers. Area Agencies on Aging provide several types of assistance to caregivers including: information and referrals to available home and community-based services in the area, counseling and respite care.
2. Find the local chapter of a disease-specific organization
Depending on the type of chronic health condition your loved one is managing, there are some organizations with local chapters that provide disease-specific services and support. For example, if your loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or another type of dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association has local chapters across the country that provide helpful information and programming.
3. Use a national database to find local resources
Some organizations focused on supporting caregivers have created national registries of helpful services and programs available in each state. Try one of these tools to locate services in your area, the Family Caregiver Alliance’s Family Care Navigator and the Administration for Community Living of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Eldercare Locator.
4. Ask friends, neighbors or faith communities
There’s a good chance other people you know have had to take care of a loved one, and they can be a wonderful resource for finding the best services near you. In addition, some churches and ministers offer support to caregivers and may also know of local agencies or support groups that can be helpful. Talking with friends and faith leaders about their experiences with particular programs and services can help you better understand what’s available and what to expect. Keep in mind that everyone’s caregiving situation is different, so a service that may be a great fit for your peer may not be the most appropriate for you, but that information can help you hone in on what’s right for you.
Using these tools and resources can help make caregiving easier for you and offer more support for your loved one.