By Sonya Stinson
Sometimes it would be so great to have several carbon copies of yourself: One to take Mom to her doctor's appointment, another to pick up your youngest from band practice. One to make Dad dinner, another to run that late meeting at the office.
It's a nice fantasy, but the reality is you can't be everywhere all the time. Now and then you'll need to delegate some essential caregiving duties like helping with daily living activities, providing transportation and coordinating care.
Follow these tips for finding caregiver resources in your community.
Your loved one insists she can “get along fine" in her own home, but realistically she needs help with everyday tasks like cooking, housekeeping and perhaps even dressing, bathing and using the bathroom. The solution might be to hire an in-home personal care assistant. One of the best online tools for finding and vetting these kinds of services is the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging's Eldercare Locator. You can search the online directory or contact the Call Center at (800) 677-1116.
A local senior or community center may have a meal program Mom or Dad can join, so they can get out and meet new friends and you don't have to worry about doing the cooking yourself.
Transportation needs are the top reason people call the Eldercare Locator hotline. It's no wonder, since about 600,000 older adults give up driving every year, but they still need a way to get to the doctor's office, the grocery store and visits with friends.
You can't always provide that car service for the elder in your care, but there are other options. Depending on your location, the choices include networks of volunteer drivers, paratransit services and access to shared and personal rides through services like Uber and Lyft.
Getting it Together
Even with family members, friends, neighborhoods and paid help pitching in, it can be hard to keep up with all the moving parts of your loved one's caregiving needs and schedule. Finding good resources to help with coordinating that care can mean the difference between coping well and crashing from the pressure.
One organization offering to come to the rescue of organizationally challenged caregivers is Lotsa Helping Hands, which lets you create an online community and post requests on its Help Calendar for things that need to get done. On a similar site, Care Central, you can create a website to share updates with everyone interested and involved in the care of your loved one. The site's Lend a hand section is the place to ask for help with specific tasks like “vacuum living room" or “pick up meals."
These are just a few of the many caregiver resources helping to make life easier for both aging adults and the family members who are looking after their needs. For more information on these and other types of assistance, visit the Family Caregiver Council website.
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