Help For Caregivers Pressed Into Care
Off-Time Events Can Derail A Young Life
Many of us realize that at some point in the future, we will become a caregiver for an elderly parent or spouse. What we don't expect is caregiving to start when we are in our 40s, 30s or even our 20s! These are the years that we expect to take care of ourselves (our education, career and family), but many of us are finding that our lives are suddenly put on hold as we become caregivers. This abrupt change in our lives can create feelings of anger and sadness. Help is out there, and we have put some of these ideas together.
The first suggestion given to many of these young caregivers by industry professionals is to join a support group. We know that support groups work. Many people feel tremendous relief when sharing problems, thoughts and concerns with like-minded folks; however, with young caregivers, the immediate problem is finding peers in the support groups. Finding someone under the age of 55 in a caregiver support group is rare, yet the growing population of this age caregiver exists. If this it you, it would make sense to reach out to the association that deals with your loved ones main issue, such as the Alzheimer’s Association or Parkinson’s Association.
You can also speak with religious leaders or to a local “senior village” to ask about support groups with younger attendee population. They will know the families that attend and can point you to the group that suits you best. The second suggestion for the younger caregiver is to hire outside help so that the burdens of care can be shared. Outside help can help make life feel a little less “derailed.”
For those of us of over the age of 40, please pay attention. Although long-term planning can be a hard issue to face, it is a must. Basic planning includes: arranging power of attorney for your financial and health care needs; preparing a living will to spell out your wishes if you are incapacitated, and, maybe, purchasing long-term care insurance policy if appropriate. Taking these relatively simple steps is the prudent thing to do and may allow a younger loved one to continue his or her life path without the tremendous burden of caregiving for a parent or grandparent.
Finally, reaching out for respite care services may be a great choice for young caregivers. There are many church and community groups that can assist with brief respite care situations. Home care companies also offer respite care services so that the young caregiver can attend a university class, book club, or spend a few hours working out.
Being a young caregiver may not be ideal, but with some thought and planning by all parties, there are ways to get through it without completely derailing a young life, while still feeling good about doing all that you can to help a loved one.