• Empower yourself with information about your loved one’s condition, legal rights, government programs, and services that can help.
  • Your nearest Area Agency on Aging (AAA) can link you to a range of useful services.
  • Learn how to get the most out of doctor’s visits, calls with insurance companies, and other potentially frustrating situations.

Research may not seem like an urgent priority when you’re dealing with day-to-day caregiving demands, but it’s a good idea to make time for it. The more you learn about your loved one’s condition, financial and legal issues related to caregiving, and the most useful resources available to you, the better off you’ll be when a crisis arises. Research is a good task to ask others to help with.

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Start by educating yourself about your loved one’s medical conditions and treatment options. You’ll gain confidence, give yourself the ability to question doctors, and worry less. Learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Locate the local chapter of the foundation or association related to your loved one’s condition or diagnosis to learn more about its services. Here is a list of many well-known disease-specific organizations and organizations that support those with Alzheimer’s and dementia and their caregivers.

Available nationwide, Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) coordinate and offer services that help older adults. AAAs provide information and referrals to community meal programs, government financial programs, home assistance, and other services that can help people live as independently as possible. Find out if there is an Aging and Disability Resource Center in your area. There are currently only 42 in the country, but the number is expected to grow. Their purpose is to help individuals and families make more informed decisions.

It is also important to learn all you can about the basics of complicated topics such as Medicare and Medicaid, advance directives, and planning and paying for long term care.

While it may take some time, understanding how to work most effectively with your loved one’s doctors, hospital and insurance company can mitigate frustration in dealing with these entities. Each has its own “rules of the game” but with a little research you’ll be able to navigate the system while minimizing your frustration.

Finally, your research may require learning new skills if you need to provide hands-on care with your loved one. Many community organizations offer caregiver training classes such as the Red Cross, Easter Seals, community or senior centers, and even local hospitals and clinics. In fact, Easter Seals sells a video on how to properly assist loved ones with activities of daily living (e.g., bathing, transferring, dressing, managing medications, etc.). Time spent learning this could protect both you and your loved one from injury.

Content shown was developed in collaboration between AGIS and National Family Caregivers Association.


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