In reviewing our blog recently, I was struck by how much we’ve written for family caregivers.
- We’ve offered advice for protecting elderly family members from fire, financial scams, falls, and malnutrition.
- We’ve shared information about the rights that family caregivers, who frequently provide hands-on care and too often face discrimination because of their caregiver responsibilities, have under New York State and New York City
- We’ve tried to encourage people to find ways to enjoy spending time with a family member whose memory is fading, while also expanding caregivers’practical knowledge about managing someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
- We’ve written about how to figure out if your loved one may need home care.
This is far from an exhaustive list. We write frequently in the hope of helping family caregivers because we know that for many of our members and non-members alike, family caregivers are the most important factor in their wellbeing. We also know that if you are taking care of a spouse, parent, or other loved one with a severe disability, including Alzheimer’s, you have a lot to worry about and it may seem like an added burden to have to think about yourself – but it’s something every caregiver needs to do.
For the past few years we’ve been looking for ways to make life just a little easier for the family caregivers of ICS members. In surveying them we learned that they wanted more information about specific health conditions, like MS, diabetes, pressure sores, or Alzheimer’s. They also wanted advice for negotiating relationships with home care workers. Most of all, they wanted, and sometimes just desperately needed, a break.
We heard you!
In 2016, we created a respite policy for family members who are hands-on caregivers of ICS members, which allows them to leave their loved ones in safe, temporary, care so that they can travel, conduct business, or just get some badly needed rest. We also tried out the idea of having support groups for caregivers at our member centers, but most of the family members we surveyed said it would be too difficult for them to attend. That’s one big reason we decided to join the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), which has well-developed programs for providing support to family members by phone.
Help is on the other end of the line!
The following support programs are available for family caregivers of people with dementia, and are completely free:
- Caregiver Support Group – This telephone based support group is an opportunity to speak, share and get strategies to help you in your caregiving. It takes place on Mondays, from 7 to 8 pm. To learn more or sign up call 866.232.8484.
- Caring For a Spouse – This telephone based support group for the spouse or partner of people with dementia takes place on Thursdays, from 7 to 8 pm. To learn more or to sign up, call AFA at 866.232.8484.
- Young-onset Spousal Support Group – This telephone based support group is for spouses of Alzheimer’s patients with a young-onset diagnosis. It takes place on Wednesdays, from 4 to 5 pm. To learn more or to sign up, call AFA at 866.232.8484.
AFA also has a free helpline where you can speak with a licensed social worker and get direction and assistance related to your specific questions and needs. The helpline is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 9 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm. The number is the same as the one above. You can also ask questions by live chat, email or Skype. For more information on these options, click here.