Help them identify responsibilities and acknowledge how much they are doing. Reinforce that, though it may be uncomfortable, it is vital to ask for help and have a respite plan.
Ask about their well-being and express concerns. Are they getting proper rest, exercise, good nutrition, and time for social activities?
Assist them with practical taskssuch as filling out paperwork, making phone calls, running errands, accompanying them to appointments, staying with their loved one to give them a break, or preparing a meal.
Listen.Let a caregiver talk about his or her frustration, worry, and sadness. Provide reassurance that it is normal to have these feelings.Encourage the caregiver to be honest about how they are doing.
Create a calendarto help a caregiver balance basic social, physical, intellectual, creative, emotional and spiritual activities.
Be there.Your presence is often the most important support. Set a reminder on your calendar to regularly call or check in.
Laughter is a stress-reliever and “good medicine.”Brighten a caregiver’s dayby watching a funny movie together or talking about humorous things you have heard or seen recently.
Watch for signs of burnout, stress, and/or depression. Ask what helps them cope and help them make these activities a priority. Or,encourage them to seek professional helpif things become too overwhelming.
Doris Green has worked in the Aging and Disability field for 14 years in Rochester, NY. Her past experience includes developing programs in the areas of planning, advocacy and financial services for older adults and caregivers of persons with disabilities. As the new Director, Doris will oversee a coalition of hundreds of family caregivers and supporting professionals throughout New York State. The coalition identifies and communicates best practice caregiver programs, and will be take a lead role in the continuing development of a statewide volunteer-based caregiver respite program.
2015 gave us the passing of the CARE Act. The CARE Act is legislation to support family caregivers as they try to keep their loved ones at home.
The Caregiver Advise, Record and Enable Act ensures hospital patients can designate a family caregiver and requires hospitals to offer that caregiver instruction and demonstrations of medical tasks they are being expected to provide for their loved ones at home. The CARE Act mandates that hospitals have a discharge plan which requires them to provide information and training to family caregivers.
2016 brings a new focus to legislative priorities.
AARP is supporting Governor Cuomo's bill forPaid Family Leave Insurance - This bill would be funded by employee contributions.
It is an expansion of the current Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which guarantees unpaid time off for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for seriously ill family member. However, FMLA is only available to 60% of families in the US. (US Dept. of Labor Feb 2013)
Only three states have enacted Paid Family Leave laws (PFL). California, New Jersey and Rhode Island lead the way in the important legislation. In these states employees can receive a portion of their wages while they care for a loved one, thereby helping them to remain financially stable, lowering the stress emotional stress of caregiving.
A 2009 Statewide poll of New York voters showed widespread support for PFL legislation; 76% favored or strongly favored extending New York's temporary disability insurance program to provide up to 12 weeks a year of paid family leave. In fact, the support was significant among women; 82% of New York state women favor or strongly favor .PFL. (Marist College Institute for Public Opinion) 83% of New York small business owners supported expanding the state's temporary disability insurance program via a small employee contribution. (Small Business Majority 2013)
Expanding Health Tasks by Advanced Home Health Aides
"Allowing properly supervised advanced home health aides to perform more health tasks, such as administering eye and ear drops, is one common sense step to help relieve the growing strain on family caregivers.
"Many caregivers are faced with trying to juggle demands at their own workplace with providing important, basic health tasks for their older parents, spouses and other loved ones at home.
"Helping caregivers is critical, since they allow our older loved ones to age with dignity and independence at home - where the vast majority want to be - rather than in much costlier and mostly taxpayer-funded institutional care settings.
"New York's nearly 2.6 million unpaid family caregivers provide care valued at $31.3 billion annually. AARP applauds Governor Cuomo for continuing to press this issue with the Legislature, and we hope lawmakers join him in recognizing that the need to support our family caregivers through this and other common sense solutions is both compassionate and cost-effective." (AARP State Director- Beth Finkel)
In 2015, an alliance of a dozen organizations throughout the Rochester (Monroe County) area introduced a new campaign focusing on the needs of family caregivers. This comprehensive community impact campaign featured the launch of HelpACaregiver.org, a single point of entry for caregivers, or those concerned about a caregiver they know, to connect with the services they need.
This multi-layered program was made possible through grant funding from the Rochester Area Community Foundation, and includes recruitment of volunteer "caregiver companions" to help give caregivers a break by providing respite services. Another important goal of this initiative is make sure caregivers are lined up with services they can benefit from much earlier on in their caregiving journey.
The Rochester Advertising Council enlisted the help of Antithesis Advertising and other providers of creative services, who donated their time to build the creative campaign necessary to promote this important community program. The Ad Council also facilitated the donation of media time/space to make sure these television spots and print ads reach a broad audience, ensuring maximum impact.
Support services and resources for caregivers are available across New York State. Click here for a county by county listing.
Supporting You: New York State Caregiving and Respite Coalition (NYSCRC), supports all people engaged in caregiving,
and is dedicated to quality and accessible respite for all ages, conditions and disabilities.
New York State Caregiving & Respite Coalition c/o Lifespan 1900 S. Clinton Ave Rochester, NY 14618 585-244-8400E-mail NYSCRC