Feeling supported and having the ability to spend time away from the primary care partner role should not be a luxury, but a requirement.

Original article by Teepa Snow, MS, ORT/L, FAOTA, with minor updates by Polly Logan, PAC Team Member

By Polly Logan

However, care partners often report that they struggle to find time to meet even their own basic needs of sleeping and eating. Many care partners feel that they don’t know where to look for support, they don’t know what helpers can actually do, and they are unsure how to get started. Care partners are also often concerned that they do not have the financial ability to pay for help, and they are not aware that there may be affordable options available. Let’s explore:

First, consider what type of support would be most helpful for you. Here are some examples:

  • Assistance with doing things that you simply don’t have the time or energy to do, such as household chores or errands
  • A helper to be with the person for whom you provide support, so you can have some time away. During that time, the helper could engage in many different ways. For example:
    • Work on a project with the person you are supporting, such as creating and tending to garden boxes, making things to donate to others, or engaging in other activities that help the person feel useful or contributes to the community or household
    • Together with the person being supported, partner in activities such as exercising, dog walking, volunteer work, and/or other purposeful interests

Early in the dementia experience, the support will be more of a companion-type relationship. As time goes on and abilities change, a person will need a different level and type of support. Accessing help from skilled professionals may be in order. Some of those can be found in the next section.

How and where do you go about finding this support?

Here is a list of possible resources to help find low-cost or no-cost support for care partners:

  • Local Area Agencies on Aging: every county in the United States is assigned to a government-funded Area Agency on Aging. Click here to learn more and to find resources in your area
  • Churches and faith communities often have volunteer programs to help their members who are in care partnering situations, as well as often offer support groups for care partners
  • Local dementia-specific organizations, such as Alzheimer’s Association chapters and dementia-friendly community initiatives typically offer educational materials and local resources
  • Primary care providers or other medical clinics: many have social workers on staff who are able to provide resource connections
  • Volunteers from respite care organizations
  • Subsidized adult day programs
  • Students from CNA/nursing programs needing to fulfill their field requirements, so local educational institutions may be a source
  • Friends, family members, or acquaintances who already have a relationship with the person you support

Conclusion

If taking the time to find support feels overwhelming to you, or if you are simply not accustomed to asking for help, it may be easiest to start small and slow. Make one phone call or send one email to a local organization. Reaching out for help can be uncomfortable at first. In return, the will be worth the effort, both for you and the individual you are supporting .

 

If you’d like to read more content like this, please visit www.teepasnow.com/blog.

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