Today, around 40 million Americans1 are unpaid family caregivers who are responsible for their family members’ different medical needs. Family caregivers provide, on average, 24 hours of care per week for their loved ones, which can in turn make it difficult for caregivers to take care of themselves. Because of this, it is important that family caregivers are familiar with different coping mechanisms for stress and how they can get help from Medicare not for just their loved ones, but also for themselves.
Taking care of a loved one who is suffering from different health problems is extremely demanding on the caregiver’s time, energy and emotions, and can result in the caregiver feeling stressed and overwhelmed. By using these coping mechanisms, the feelings of family caregiver burnout can be reduced:
- Make sure you are taking care of yourself and giving yourself a break because your whole life should not become encompassed in taking care of another person. Set goals that establish a routine for yourself that includes setting an exercise schedule, eating healthy foods, and drinking plenty of water.
- Use a communal source to update family and friends on your loved one’s condition, since it can get tiring discussing the situation with everyone individually. Posting on a private social media group page or using a website such as CaringBridge that allows you to give your updates to everyone simultaneously can relieve some of the pressure that is put on you.
- Join support groups to connect with others who are in a similar situation. Talking to someone who has experienced similar problems can provide you with different perspectives and solutions.
- Utilize online resources that can help you understand and deal with the challenges you are facing. These include Community Resource Finder and Family Care Navigator, that help locate helpful programs and services in your area.
Family caregivers may also receive help for their loved ones through Medicare, receiving both financial aid assistance and qualifying for caregiver services.
Caregivers may be eligible for tax breaks if the person being cared for is claimed as a dependent, meaning that he/she is living with the caregiver while the caregiver is providing for more than half of his/her financial support. A caregiver may also qualify to receive dependent care credit and/or medical expense deductions on taxes, and Medicaid may also provide payment for time spent providing care.
Additionally, caregivers may be able to receive home health care assistance, including hospice care, part-time skilled nursing care, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy.
It’s important for caregivers to also take care of themselves while caring for a loved one and understand where and how they can get additional assistance from Medicare resources. If you or a family member have any questions on this topic, please contact one of our advisors here.
Senior Financial Group does Medicare differently.
1[National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]