Caring for an elderly parent or loved one can be very challenging at times. Whether it’s financial support or emotional support, it certainly is a big task for one to take on. However, there are many resources available to help you and your loved ones on this daunting journey so that you can make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are five tips for first time caregivers from The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP):
The right time to talk about the future is now—even if it’s uncomfortable. Ask your loved one about their wishes, values and preferences on things that matter, from health to finances. If you wait until a fall, accident or serious diagnosis, your choices may be more limited and more difficult to evaluate when everyone’s stress levels are sky-high.
Quick Tips On Elderly Care
- Look for an opening: Rather than bringing up a tough topic out of the blue, it can help to point to a newspaper story or a relevant comment as a conversation-starter. (Example: “You mentioned your eyes are bothering you. Is this causing problems with reading or driving?”)
- Keep trying: It can be hard for some people to admit they need help. If your first conversation doesn’t go well, gently try again. If you are repeatedly shut out, consider asking another trusted family member, friend or doctor to approach them about your concerns.
- Don’t forget to talk about money: It’s often at the heart of decisions you’ll make as a caregiver. Respectfully ask them to review their bank accounts and health insurance so you can know how much is available to cover potential costs.
- Bring others into the conversation: Once you’ve started the discussion, you may wish to ask a few other people close to your loved one—family members or friends—to be part of the process. There may be conflicts, but don’t be afraid to talk through them. Better now than in a time of crisis.
- Listen to and respect your loved one’s desires: The person you’re caring for should always participate in discussions about their needs and plans for their future, to the extent that it’s possible.
For more information or to read the full article, click on this link: AARP – Help for First Time Caregivers
Financial Help For Caregivers
Did you know that you may be eligible for potential tax breaks for caring for your loved one?
As a caregiver, you might be able to claim your elderly parent as a dependent on your taxes. You might also be able to deduct your medical expenses. IRS Publication 501 gives details on dependency requirements, including caregiver income phase-out levels. In addition, you must be providing over half of their financial support for food, housing, medical, transportation, etc.
If the person lives with you, include a reasonable percentage of your mortgage, utilities and other household costs in determining your level of support. Those who are in an assisted living or long term care facility can qualify as dependents if the income and support levels are met. To learn more about if you qualify for tax breaks, read more on this article from Agingcare.com.
Local Support Groups
You’re not alone! Did you know that government agencies provide free support to family caregivers? The Family Caregiver Support Program (FCSP) offers support services to family caregivers of persons age 60 and older, or adults of any age with dementia. There are tons of amazing and helpful resources available including resources like:
- Assistance to caregivers in gaining access to supportive services;
- Individual counseling, support groups and caregiver training
- Respite care
- Supplemental services (such as emergency response systems and home modifications.)
Shasta County currently offers these services through:
Redding Rancheria Indian Health Services- Senior Nutrition in Redding, CA
2000 Redding Rancheria Road Redding CA 96001