Whether it's your mom or dad needing a helping hand, your sister recovering from breast cancer, your spouse showing signs of dementia or your grandmother who recently broke her hip, you realize that you are now a caregiver. And you have a million questions. Where do you start?
One thing that does help is to have a plan. These guides are meant to be roadmaps to help you navigate your caregiving journey and understand your options. You'll become familiar with the various types of care that can support and assist you and your loved one, figure out what best suits your needs and know the right questions to ask.
Check out the following categories to determine what kind of care and care settings are available to your loved one. Then learn the cost of this type of care, safety factors to consider and questions to ask when choosing the right caregiver or facility.
Senior Care Guide: This downloadable comprehensive overview of care options is a great place to begin. It details all of your choices and how to figure out what is best for you and your family.
Aging in Place: The vast majority of seniors want to remain in their homes as they age. Find out if this is a safe and viable option for your elderly loved one and, if it is, where to start.
Home Care Options: Finding assistance for your elderly loved ones at home does not always have to start with paid services. With some organization and adaptability, you can create a care team of volunteers and friends who can provide your senior with the companionship he or she needs.
Hiring a Caregiver: Do you hire a caregiver for mom independently or through an agency? What questions do you ask this person? Where do you start? This guide answers these questions and gives you strategies and tips so you can make informed decisions.
Villages and Intentional Communities: These aging in place supports are popping up in neighborhoods all across the country and are incredibly helpful to seniors who want to remain in their homes as they age. Learn what they are and how they work.
Respite Care: All caregivers need a break from their normal caregiving routine -- whether it's a few minutes or a few days. This is called respite care and there are a number of formal and informal options to choose from.
Adult Day Programs: An affordable and more social option for many seniors, which also offers respite to family caregivers, are Adult Day Programs. There are a variety of program models to meet your senior's needs.
Senior Housing: There are many housing communities that cater specifically to the senior population and can include a variety of accommodations to make living independently easier.
CCRCs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities): These communities feature varied levels of care, from independent living apartments to assisted living to nursing home care -- all on one campus.
Assisted Living: Seniors who can no longer live at home, yet do not need professional nursing care or 24-hour care, are ideal candidates for assisted living. Learn if this is the right fit for your loved one.
Nursing Homes: Nursing homes provide skilled nursing care for a senior who requires 24-hour care. Learn about what these services entail and how much this costs.
End of Life Care: Hospice care is available for individuals with a terminal illness who are no longer receiving curative treatment. Hospice also supports the entire family through the end-of-life process and during the grieving process after death.
Tiffany Smith is the senior associate editor here at Care.com. She has written for All You, Time for Kids and the Boston Globe. And as a former babysitter, she knows a lot about fun games to play with kids. Getting them to eat their veggies -- that’s a different story! Follow her on Twitter at @tiffanyiswrite.