A Guide to Family Caregiver Resources
Do you care for a child with special needs, an elderly person, or someone else who needs regular attention? Here are organizations that can help.
Caring for a loved one isn't easy, no matter whether it's a child with special needs or a senior family member. Though it's also fulfilling, caregiving is a time-consuming and emotionally-draining task. Luckily, there are lots of organizations out there that can help those in need and their families.
Here is a list of some of the organizations that can help you take care of a loved one. They may offer educational programs, caregiving tips, support groups, respite care, and assistance with medical needs and financial obligations.
The Alzheimer's Association is the largest international health organization for Alzheimer's care and support, and the most expansive non-governmental organization raising funds for Alzheimer's research. Caring for someone with Alzheimer's is difficult, and respite care provides caregivers temporary relief, while their charge continues to receive safe and effective care. Respite services can support the caregiver mentally and physically and make it easier for them to be a good caregiver in the weeks to come. The Alzheimer's Association likes to say, "caregiving is demanding -- and it's normal to need a break. Seeking help does not make you a failure. Remember that respite services benefit the person with dementia as well as the caregiver."
Adult Children of Aging Parents
The mission of this charitable organization is to assist our country's caregivers (almost 54 million of them, at last count!) of elderly or chronically ill Americans by providing information, referrals and support. They also hope to heighten public awareness about the health of the family caregivers being essential to ensure quality care of the nation's growing elderly population. They offer services to families that include respite care assistance.
American Association of People with Disabilities
This organization focuses on access to quality, affordable health care and believes it's the foundation of an independent, productive life. For people with disabilities, access to healthcare is critical. AAPD supports quality care of all kinds that is accessible, affordable, local and responsive to the needs of the ill or disabled individual. In addition, they recognize the importance of assistance with health care needs and assistance for those that provide the day-to-day care for the disabled.
ARCH National Respite Network
The ARCH National Respite Network exists to assist and promote quality respite care and crisis assistance programs across America. It helps families locate respite and crisis care services locally, and serves as a voice for respite care in political forums. They offer services to find local care providers, facilitate a group that advocates for quality policy changes regarding respite care and work with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to train caregivers.
Family Caregiver Alliance
Founded in 1977, the Family Caregiver Alliance is the original community-based organization in America, acknowledging the needs of families who were providing long-term care for other family members at home. Long recognized as a pioneer in health services, FCA now offers programs at national, state and local levels to support and sustain caregivers. They create documents and materials that are widely utilized by families and health care providers.
Hospice Foundation of America
The Hospice Foundation of America offers respite support for families, creates programs for public education and professional development and publishes works on health policy issues. Their programs for health care professionals (including doctors, nurses and medicals assistants) teach those who encounter terminal illness, death and the process of grief either personally or professionally, and are offered on both nationally and regionally. Public programs are also available to assist individuals who are in the midst of coping with issues of caregiving, grief, illness and much more.
National Adult Day Services Association
Nationally, NADSA works for the creation, expansion, recognition and use of day services for adults. These centers provide professional and compassionate services that are needed by the patient and can be provides in a group setting of their peers. Services are designed by to provide both health and social services to adults who need safe, supervised care during working hours, and they cannot remain in their homes. The organization also creates opportunities for caregivers to receive respite from the responsibilities of caregiving.
National Center for Assisted Living
The National Center for Assisted Living is the assisted living voice of the American Health Care Association. This organization is dedicated to serving the needs of the assisted living community through advocacy, education and networking. Their nationwide focus on creating proactive assisted living legislation is backed by one of the best long term care advocacy teams in the country. NCAL members trust in their organization and that their concerns will be noted by national policymakers and regulators.
Mental Health America
This group (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association) is the country's premier organization dedicated to helping all people -- those diagnosed with a disorder and those without a diagnosis -- live mentally-healthier lives. With 240 affiliates nationwide, they represent the many Americans whose numbers are increasing daily who promote mental wellness in each individual to improve the health and well-being of the nation -- everyday and in times of crisis.
National Alliance for Caregiving
This is a nonprofit coalition of 50 national organizations that focus on family caregiving. The alliance works to improve the lives of families, caregivers and care recipients through research, legislation, activism and bringing the importance of caregiving to the forefront of public awareness. NAC recognizes that all families have different caregiving needs and situations and they offer information and resources to help many situations.
The Aging Life Care Association
The Aging Life Care Association (formerly known as the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers) helps families access the assistance of professionals who can guide them through all the paths of caregiving. For families caring for elderly loved ones, this assistance can help manage the many aspects of care from medical care to housing options to reduce stress on the caregivers and the care recipients. Care managers advocate for the families to identify and implement needed resources.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
The National MS Society Respite Care Program was created to improve the quality of life for patients with multiple sclerosis and for their families. It provides short-term services in the home for individuals with multiple sclerosis who require care and/or supervision, but are not in need of specific medical or pharmaceutical assistance. Mainly, the society wishes to allow the caregiver a break from medical responsibilities and give them time to complete necessary errands, such as their own doctor's appointments, shopping, travel time and social obligations.
National Volunteer Caregiving Network
There are more than 600 local volunteer caregiver programs nationwide which are affiliated with this network. The National Volunteer Caregiving Network started as the Faith in Action program in 1983 with funds from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. One of the services the volunteer caregiving programs provide is respite care for family caregivers.
Volunteers with the Senior Corps' Senior Companion Program offer respite services for families caring for elderly loved ones. A program of the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, the Senior Corps volunteers can give hours of respite care by acting as a companion while the caregiver is out. Volunteers with the senior companion program can offer assistance that allows a senior to stay at home and gives a caregiver time to refresh.
Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston, Texas. Her work can be found here.