Where Can I Turn for Help?
When we begin caring for a loved one with a chronic health condition, it can be difficult to ask for help. We may not know whom to ask for support, or worry about being perceived as unable to manage all of our responsibilities. Locating available resources and information can be challenging and overwhelming, but understanding where to turn for quality services and information to support us throughout our caregiving journey is important. We can start by surfing the internet, but these searches often give us too much information, and it can be hard to determine what is accurate and trustworthy.
So how can we begin to zero in on credible resources?
1. Visit your local Area Agency on Aging.
Established under the Older Americans Act, Area Agencies on Aging provide services and support to older people and their families. Each of the 622 Area Agencies on Aging across the country provide five core services, including services and support for caregivers. Some types of assistance Area Agencies on Aging provide to caregivers include: information and referrals to available home and community-based services in the area, counseling and respite care.
2. Contact a local disease-specific organization.
Depending on the type of chronic health condition our loved one is managing, there are some organizations with local chapters that provide disease-specific services and support. For example, if our loved one has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease or another type of dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association has local chapters across the country that provide helpful information and programming.
3. Use a national database to locate local community resources.
There are organizations focused on supporting caregivers that have compiled national registries of helpful services and programs available in each state. Two helpful tools to locate services in our area include the Family Caregiver Alliance’s Family Care Navigator and the Administration for Community Living of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Eldercare Locator.
4. Reach out to peers, or members of your faith community.
The experiences of our trusted friends and family who have also managed the care of a loved one can serve as helpful guides to resources and services in our communities. Faith leaders can also offer needed support and guidance as we manage our evolving caregiving responsibilities. Asking questions of our peers and faith leaders about their experiences with particular programs and services can help us better understand what to expect when approaching organizations for assistance. Keep in mind that everyone’s caregiving situation is different, so a service that may be a great fit for your peer may not be the most appropriate for you.