How to Become a Family Member's Caregiver
People today live longer than they ever have in the past. Today, the average person’s life expectancy is 78.8, which is a record high. With advanced age come extra challenges, and many seniors reach a point where they can no longer handle everything themselves. They need a caregiver, and if you’re like many people, you’re assuming that role with one or both of your parents.
Being a caregiver is a demanding job, and it’s also financially difficult for many people. Fortunately, there are programs that offer financial assistance, paying you to be a full time caregiver for your loved one. Here’s what you need to know about programs that can help provide extra financial support for caregivers.
- Get Paid to Be a Caregiver: If you’re acting as a caregiver for a family member, there are programs that will pay you to do so. Both state and national resources are available to help you take care of your elderly or disabled family member, easing your financial burdens. Here are some of the options that you can consider.
- Medicaid In-Home Care Assistance: Many people become a family member’s caregiver because of the high cost of assisted living facilities or in-home care services. If you or your loved one have few assets and a low income, and you’re eligible for Medicaid, it will pay for some degree of in-home care. This is similar to the care that you’re probably already providing: assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, and other activities of daily living. Medicaid can cover the cost of in-home care from a licensed home health care agency, which will visit your loved one’s home at scheduled times. Having someone else help out can lighten your load, giving you time to relax and take care of your own needs.
- State Programs: Many US states have programs to help cover the cost of in-home care, or cover the cost of giving you the right training and financial support to assume a caregiving role. These programs exist under various titles, including “consumer-directed,” “participant-directed,” or “cash and counseling.” Most of these programs have eligibility requirements, in which income plays a role. There may also be strict guidelines that govern who is allowed to be the caregiver. If you contact your local Medicaid office, or visit the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services, you can find opportunities in your area. Unfortunately, many of these programs have a waiting list, so it might take a while to get the assistance you need.
- Veterans’ Benefits: If your loved one is a military veteran, and was injured in a military conflict that took place after September 11, 2001, a law passed in 2010 entitles you to a monthly stipend if you are their caregiver. Caregivers also receive benefits like coverage for travel expenses, access to health insurance, mental health services, and 30 days per year of respite. There are also state programs designated for veterans that can provide additional help.
- Disability.gov’s Guide for Family Caregivers: Disability.gov offer a comprehensive guide for family caregivers, with information you can use to navigate the challenges of caregiving. They link to several organizations that can help, including:
- The Family Caregiver’s Alliance
- The National Alliance for Caregiving
- Lotsa Helping Hands
- The Caregiver Action Network
- The Alzheimer’s & Dementia Caregiver Center
- These and other organizations can help provide you with volunteer assistance, financial help, advisors, and other services that help you take care of your loved one.
- Exploring Your Options: In-Home Care Services and Other Solutions: What if you can’t continue to act as a full time caregiver? Your own obligations to your career, income, and finances can prevent you from being able to give your full attention to your love one’s ongoing care. It’s important to also consider your long-term options for making sure they’re taken care of. A Place for Mom is an advisement service that can help you connect with senior living arrangements that work for you. They’ll connect you with a local advisor who can help you find the right fit for your loved one’s healthcare needs, budget, and lifestyle. There are several different options that you could consider, including:
- Senior living communities
- Independent living
- Nursing homes
- Long term care homes
- Alzheimer’s care services
- Apartment communities for residents 55+
- Respite care services
- The right option for your loved one can depend on the nature and extent of their disability. Many seniors who are in relatively good mental and physical health, but who need some extra help from day to day, can thrive in senior living communities. Other people with more serious disabilities may need more intensive around-the-clock care. A Place for Mom will work with you to find the best options.
Being a caregiver is never easy. Fortunately, there are state and national services you can use to get financial aid, training, and other things you may need to make sure your elderly or disabled loved one gets the care they need.