Caregiving for an aging loved one can sometimes lead to physical, emotional or mental exhaustion, which can contribute to caregiver fatigue. Caregiving resources can alleviate some of the common causes of fatigue, which may arise from the parent/child role reversal, unrealistic expectations when caring for someone with a progressive disease (such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's), or frustration about lack of money, skills or resources.
Fortunately, you can help prevent caregiver fatigue by taking proactive steps to find a helping hand with caregiving tasks. Here are six caregiver resources you can tap to help manage the stressors of being a caregiver.
Area Agencies on Aging
Your county agency on aging, the state department of aging or a similar government agency are all good places to search for resources that can help prevent caregiver fatigue. These agencies can refer you to local caregiving resources and programs for seniors (such as Meals on Wheels) as well as volunteers who can assist with errands or respite care, and local transportation to appointments.
Visit your official county website or the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services state resources page to find local caregiver resources and state agencies that can help.
Often, one of the chief causes of fatigue for a caregiver living with a loved one is not being able to get out of the house for self-care or activities they enjoy because they can't leave their loved one home alone safely. Fortunately, there are free or low-cost respite services in many communities where a volunteer will sit with your loved one while you meet friends for lunch, work out at the gym or just get some time to yourself outside the house.
To find respite care in your community, search these nationwide respite locators or call your area agency on aging or senior services:
- ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center National Respite Locator.
- National Adult Day Services Association Eldercare Locator.
Military veterans may be eligible for Veteran's Affairs (VA) respite care.
Many communities have volunteers who can help with running errands, mowing, shopping, light housekeeping or meal preparation. Ask your area agency on aging or senior community center about volunteer services. You can also find local volunteers through the following national organizations:
- Senior Corps is a program where volunteers can visit with a loved one who lives alone or provide respite care so you can avoid caregiver burnout. To find a Senior Companion program in your community, visit Senior Companions or call the National Service Hotline at 1-800-942-2677.
- Elder Helpers is a nationwide organization that matches elders with volunteers from their community who enjoy working with seniors. Elder Helpers screens and trains its volunteers through a phone interview and an identity check.
Caregiver Support Groups
No one understands the many emotions and frustrations that can lead to caregiver fatigue better than others who are also caring for loved ones. By attending a caregiver support group, you can find validation for your many emotions and get tips on dealing with situations such as aggressive or anxious behaviors from a loved one with dementia.
To find a local support group, call your area agency on aging or senior services center. You can also find support groups specifically focused on supporting loved ones with dementia by contacting your local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association.
Mental Health Services
Sometimes as a caregiver, you just need to vent or share your feelings. Meeting with a counselor or therapist, either in person or via online video services, can help prevent caregiver fatigue. Even if it's hard to find time to leave the house, companies such as BetterHelp and other online therapy services have a wide range of affordable therapists who specialize in caregiving issues.
Caregiving for a loved one is a huge job, and you may need to hire private caregivers to ensure everything is covered. Even a part-time paid caregiver can help significantly. Consider asking friends for referrals to find trusted, reliable caregivers in your area. You could also call local agencies that offer in-home care services to learn about their rates, services and availability.
Keep in mind that you can't take care of another person properly if you're physically and mentally run-down. Take some time each day to take care of yourself, and consider contacting local caregiving resources to help you stay on top of your well-being and caregiving responsibilities.