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Iowa Family Caregiver Program| Family Caregiving | Family Caregiver Support| | Housing - Ensuring a Safe Living Environment | Iowa's Aging and Disability Resources | Caring for You, The Caregiver
Family Caregiver Resources
Most family members who help older people don't see themselves as caregivers. Yet a caregiver is anyone who helps an older person with household chores, errands, personal care, or finances. You are a caregiver if you do any of these things. You are a family caregiver if you help someone who cannot do or is limited from doing any of these things for him/herself.
The goal of all caregivers is to help older adults maintain the highest level of independence that they can and remain safe. Like anyone else, older adults need to be self-reliant, in control of their own lives, feel safe, be understood, and be respected.
Common issues facing older adults include adequate income, physical and mental health, suitable housing, a variety of community services, retirement in health, honor and dignity, opportunity for meaningful activity, access to transportation, and protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation.
Caregivers may be related to older persons as spouses, children, in-laws, or other family members. Sometimes, caregivers are not related but assist as friends or neighbors. The caregiver role is complex and differs for everyone depending on the needs of the person who is aging.
Family and informal caregivers are the backbone of our long-term care system. The vast majority of long-term care in Iowa and the nation is provided informally and privately at no public cost. Often at great sacrifice, families keep a loved one at home, avoiding more costly institutional care. Most caregivers are reluctant to use formal help. They often provide care with little support, experience adverse consequences to their own physical and emotional well-being, and use formal services only when faced with a crisis. But, even the most self-sufficient people may need information and direct services to best meet the needs of both aging family members and themselves. This Family Caregiver section will provide links to information and resources that can help you and your loved one on your caregiving journey.
Below are some web sites that can help you to manage the practical day-to-day process of Caregiving as well as the emotional highs and lows that you as caregiver are sure to experience. By clicking on the links, you can find a wealth of information that will help you to work through your questions and concerns.
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Iowa Family Caregiver Program: What do they do?
- Plan and develop services and programs for older Iowans to help them maintain independence and quality of life as long as possible.
- Advocate for federal and state policies which affect the quality of life for older Iowans.
- Serve as the coordinating entity with other governmental and community based organizations involved in area development efforts affecting older Iowans.
- Increase public awareness, including that of government and community leaders, of the help available to older Iowans through the Area Agencies on Aging and other community entities.
Ensure that older Iowans and family caregivers have accurate and easily accessible information about what help is available to them and their older loved ones.
The Iowa Association of Area Agencies on Aging (I4A) offers a searchable website for services. For example, your loved one lives in Monona County and you live in Polk County and you need to find a person or agency that can provide home-delivered meals once a day. On the I4A website, you can conduct a search by county and by service from drop down lists - easy! It is an excellent resource even if your loved one lives with you so that you can find the resources/services that you need for any occasion. If you can't find the resources, or have questions that cannot be answered, you can also find the local area agency on aging and their contact information on the same site. www.I4A.org
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Family Caregiving - It's Not All Up to You: If you're caring for a loved one who is ill or disabled, this site was created for you. It's a great place to find assistance, answers, new iIDAs and helpful advice - for you and your loved one.
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Family Caregiver Support: If you are caring for a grandchild or a relative's child, you are not alone. More than six million children in the United States - about 1 in 12 children - are living in households headed by grandparents or other relatives. In many of these households, grandparents or other relatives are primary caregivers for children whose parents are unwilling or unable to care for them because of many different reasons including substance abuse, mental health problems, unemployment, family violence, divorce, incarceration and others.
Kinship caregivers come from all walks of life and their numbers are increasing every year. Kinship caregivers are grandparents, aunts, uncles, other siblings, and even great grandparents.
The Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parents Association (IFAPA) supports kinship caregivers in a variety of ways including peer support, training and resources. Additional information can be found on their website by clicking here: www.ifapa.org
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Housing - Ensuring a Safe Living Environment: Comfort and a place for self-expression are vital for everyone's well-being. Being able to stay in their own home gives our loved one feelings of their treasured independence. But their home should also be a place in which he/she can be safe from accidents and injuries. Listed below are resources for assessing the safety of a home, making changes in design to include the needed safety elements, and, when staying alone in their own home is no longer possible, what other housing options are available.
If the person for whom you care has dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, there is a website that has been created to provide information on best strategies and home safety for dementia care.
It also provides social networking so caregivers can share information, ask questions and find support from the online community. This new resource will help caregivers learn new strategies that enhance the safety and well-being of their loved ones. The website also provides information to help the person they care for lice a healthier, more meaningful life.
A unique and beneficial part of this website is its Home Safety-0Virtual Care Section that allows visitors to explore research-based solutions to home safely and daily care issues by a simple mouse click over a room. Visit the Caring Home webstie at: www.thiscaringhome.org
If you and your loved one make the decision that living in her/his own home is not the best housing option, there are others such as elder group homes, assisted living and long-term care facilities. These options provide a continuum of care and are suited to the individual's care needs. More information can be found on this website by clicking on this link: Help Me Stay Home.
There may be home modifications that you would like to make either
to your loved one's home, or your own home if you decide to move
your loved one in to live with you. The Iowa Able Foundation offers
low interest loans for many types of home modifications and purchase
of assistive devices to those who qualify. You can access more
information about this program through the Iowa
Able Foundation website.
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Iowa's Aging and Disability Resources: Many people do not think about what it takes to live well with a disability or age-related concerns until they need help or a crisis occurs. You can prepare for the many transitions that occur in one's lifetime by planning. Whether you are responding to a current need or planning for the future LifeLong Links can help you find the way through an array of choices, information, and options.
You can make decisions about the services you or your loved one need using the information on this site. A broad range of services and supports are available when a person's independence is limited. In the aging community, these are sometimes called "long-term care" or "aging in place." In the disability community, these are "community supports" or "supports for independent living."
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Caring for You, the Caregiver: Caregiving for an older adult is rewarding, but let's face it,
caregiving can also be stressful - physically, emotionally, and
financially. It is vital that you take good care of yourself so
that you can remain in good health and thrive - not merely survive
your caregiving experience. We do that by managing our self-care
- that means we:
- Take responsibility for our personal well-being;
- Have realistic expectations about what our loved one can and cannot do;
- Focus on what we can do - be clear about what you can and cannot change and "let go" of the ones you can't change;
- Communicate effectively with others including family members, friends, health care professionals and your loved one;
- Learn from your emotions - realize there will be ups and downs and learn how to manage your emotions appropriately
- Get help when needed - an important part of self-care is knowing when you need help and how to find it; and finally;
- Set goals and work toward them. Be realistic in the goals that you set and take steps toward reaching those goals. Changes do not need to be major to make a significant difference.
One problem that caregivers frequently experience is trying to do it all and do it all alone. Ask yourself - is it possible to do it all? The answer to the question can be both "yes" and "no". It really depends on you. What is critical is how you define what it means to "do it all" and whether or not your definition of "doing it all" includes taking care of yourself.
Regular breaks from the tasks of caregiving are essential. Decide on the time, date, and activity - then follow through. Breaks don't have to be long to make a positive difference. It's important to plan some time for yourself in every day, even if that time is only for 15 minutes or half an hour. Most important is to do something that fulfills you and helps you to feel better. If you have difficulty taking breaks for yourself, consider taking them for your loved one. Care receivers also benefit from caregivers getting breaks.
For aditional information on family caregiving visit http://www.iowafamilycaregiver.org.
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