Family caregivers are truly unsung heroes. They volunteer to provide physical and emotional care for their elderly, ill and/or disabled loved ones without fanfare or pay. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, nearly 44 million Americans provided unpaid care to a dependent loved one last year. These are parents, adult children, spouses, and even friends and neighbors of dependent people who do not have the luxury of relying on relatives.
While laudable, it is important to recognize that family caregiving is an enormous responsibility with many potential pitfalls, even for the most committed and compassionate family members. For example, if you are considering stepping into the role of a family caregiver, first ask yourself if you are qualified. It is one thing to provide assistance with meal preparation, bathing and getting dressed, but dependents with serious health conditions or mental illness may require professional help.
In any case, consulting with an elder law attorney who is a caregiving expert and experienced legal professionals can help develop strategies and plans to support your specific needs. Let us share two initial questions to consider:
- How will caregiving affect your health? Providing care for a dependent loved one can be emotionally and mentally challenging. The demands of family caregiving can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and poor overall health. Developing self-care strategies and identifying caregiver support programs, can help alleviate the ill effects of caregiving stress.
- Are you financially prepared? Caregiving is expensive and can create financial burdens for well-meaning family members, especially if they have their own families or if care responsibilities cut into their employment hours. There are ways, however, to obtain financial support. Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans benefits may apply, as well as long-term care insurance, Supplemental Security Income and various tax deductions for out-of-pocket expenses.
Family caregivers can also be paid. There are many considerations that factor into this conversation but you should not wait to have it with your loved ones and your attorney. If you or someone you know could benefit from learning more about family caregiving support options and strategies, let us know. We are your local Arkansas law firm, ready and willing to assist you.