The number of services for caregivers is growing, although in some communities, agencies may be difficult to locate.
A good place to start is the Eldercare Locator, a free nationwide toll-free service that is designed to assist older adults and their caregivers to find services in their communities. Family Caregiver Alliance offers assistance as well.
Consider contacting senior centers, independent living centers, area Agencies on Aging, local chapters of national organizations and foundations, like the Alzheimer’s Association, Brain Injury Association, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Parkinson’s groups and others. Nursing home ombudsman programs, community mental health centers, social service or case management agencies, schools of nursing and church groups may be other sources of assistance.
Most supportive organizations are listed in the phone book under “Social Services” or “Seniors,” and many are on the Internet. Each time you talk to someone, ask for referrals and phone numbers of others who may assist you.
The Internet provides a wealth of information for caregivers, from an organization’s mission and contact information, to online support groups, to articles about overcoming the challenges of caregiving.
Most public libraries, universities and many senior centers have computers and Internet access available for free public use. If you do not know how to use a computer or how to access the Internet, don’t be shy — organization personnel are trained to how you how to get the information you are looking for. Once you get to a search engine such as Yahoo or Google, type in the search terms — the general information you are seeking, like “adult day care Sacramento, California” or “Alzheimer’s disease support groups,” and you will usually get a number of options to choose from. If you do not succeed the first time, try changing the search terms, like “respite care Sacramento California” or “caregiver support groups.”
One word of caution: as with any printed material, read with a healthy skepticism — just because it is on the Internet does not make it true. If in doubt, check the information with another independent resource and talk to your loved one’s doctor before proceeding, especially in regard to medications. Remember, just because a product is called “natural” or “herbal” does not mean it is harmless, particularly when mixed with other medications.
A number of caregiver resources are available to you — all you need to do is ask for help. You do not have to do it alone.
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