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Family Caregivers: The Unsung Heroes on the Front Lines of Relative Care

Medicare Bob
Health
As a family caregiver, you provide a vital role in supporting the older loved ones in your life — a satisfying and fulfilling job but one that’s not without its challenges.
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Family members often play an indispensable role as advocate and ally in the life of a Medicare beneficiary. According to a 2019 study, 80% of adults who need long-term care are living at home with unpaid family caregivers providing 90% of their care.

As a family caregiver, you may find satisfaction and fulfillment in giving back to those who once cared for you. The American Psychological Association reported caregivers often find peace of mind knowing their loved one is being cared for by a family member and that they’re passing on a “tradition of care,” hoping one day future generations will pay it forward.

In advocating for older loved ones, you can learn what others in your family — including yourself — might need later in life. A University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging showed individuals managing home care, insurance and Medicare coverage, technology and more for family members with dementia are better prepared to manage similar scenarios down the line.

Preventing Caregiver Burnout

Of course, you may find some challenges in caring for elderly loved ones, too. Caregivers regularly report feeling overwhelmed and exhausted — physically, mentally and emotionally. A 2020 report by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) showed 64% of respondents rated their position as a caregiver moderate to highly stressful.

A few signs of caregiver burnout to look for in yourself might include:

  • Poor sleep habits

  • Easily irritated, angered or saddened

  • Heavy amounts of alcohol or smoking

  • No time for personal care

  • Getting sick more often

Consider the common airplane analogy that you must first put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help save others. How can a caregiver provide care if they don’t take care of themselves?

Set aside time for self-care, like a quick 10-minute walk or a five minute meditation on an app like Calm. Don’t forget to ask for help from other family members, or look into respite care options.

How Medicare and Other Federal Programs Can Support Caregivers

As a caregiver, you’re an important ally in the life of a Medicare beneficiary and deserve just as much support for the time and effort you spend on those you love.

Established in 2000, the National Family Caregiver Support Program offers grants  to states to support family caregivers providing care for older adults in their homes. The program includes services you may find helpful, like:

  • Providing information to caregivers on available services.

  • Assisting caregivers in receiving these services.

  • Offering counseling, support groups and training for caregivers.

  • Providing respite care for caregivers.

  • Extending supplemental services to caregivers.

Medicare beneficiaries often rely on their family caregivers to help them understand their benefits and find the right plans for them. To relieve some of the stress you may feel in helping older loved ones, Medicare offers advice and resources for support.

Medicare also offers coverage for home health services to help offset some of the efforts made by family members like you who sacrifice the most to ensure your loved ones lead the most fulfilling and joyful lives possible.

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above is meant to be strictly educational and not intended to provide medical advice or solicit the sales of an insurance product or service of any kind.

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