If you are a caregiver for an older adult, you are not alone. In 2015, over 34 million Americans served as unpaid caregivers for people aged 50 and older (AARP Public Policy Institute, 2015). Acting as a caregiver can be very challenging physically, emotionally, and financially. Over 20% of caregivers of older adults feel that caregiving has made their health worse (AARP Public Policy Institute, 2015). Over half of caregivers of older adults report that caregiving was moderately or severely stressful (AARP Public Policy Institute, 2015). Over one in three caregivers of older adults reports a moderate or high amount of financial strain due to their caregiving activities, and almost 60% of caregivers say that their work has been impacted by caregiving duties (AARP Public Policy Institute, 2015).
Caring for an older adult loved one can be overwhelming. Many cities and states provide resources and support programs for caregivers that can help make the caregiving process less stressful. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has a resource list that helps connect caregivers to different resources in their state. To find caregiving resources near you, visit https://www.hhs.gov/aging/state-resources/index.html or contact your local Area Agency on Aging.
In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging’s (PDA) Caregiver Support Program provides many different resources for caregivers that can help reduce the stress of caregiving. Some of these services include respite care that can give caregivers a break from caregiving duties; reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs associated with caregiving; counseling; and education. Caregivers are assigned a care manager. The care manager comes to the home of the person receiving care and completes an assessment of the needs of the caregiver. The care manager can provide support for the caregiver and work with the caregiver to develop a person-centered care plan. You may be eligible for the Caregiver Support Program if you are an adult aged 18 or older caring for an individual with functional deficits, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease; someone aged 55 or older caring for a dependent child under the age of 18; or someone aged 55 or older caring for an individual aged 18-59 with a disability that is not dementia-related. To learn more about the PA Caregiver Support Program, visit https://www.aging.pa.gov/aging-services/caregiver-support/Pages/default.aspx or contact your local Area Agency on Aging to apply for the program. The PDA is also launching a statewide campaign to promote the Caregiver Support Program. This campaign includes a series of 15-second videos featuring caregivers from a variety of different caregiving situations. Visit the PDA’s YouTube page to watch the videos and to share them on social media!