Things You Can Do to Relieve Caregiver Stress

Dear Baxter,
Being a caregiver for my father with Alzheimer’s is both rewarding and stressful. I want to take care of myself, but I don’t know where to go for help, nor do I have the money to spend. What are some inexpensive ways to relieve caregiver stress?
Thanks!
Ali Veates-Tress
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Dear Ali,
Caring for a loved one can indeed be stressful, especially if you aren’t taking advantage of all the helpful resources that are out there. One study found that as many as one in three caregivers rate their stress level as high, and half say they have less time to spend with family and friends. 
Below are some ideas and resources for alleviating caregiver stress:
-Free, nonprofit caregiving resources include, but are not limited to: Caregiver Action Network, National Alliance for CaregivingFamily Caregiver AllianceNational Volunteer Caregiving Network, or the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, or VA, also has a Caregiver Support Program. You can learn more about local resources on the Eldercare Locator Website or by reaching out to your local Area Agency on Aging.
-Caregiver retreats: Caregiver retreats provide another outlet, and can be found through the Family Caregiver Alliance and other caregiving organizations. 
-Respite weekends: Well Spouse Association, a spousal support organization, offers respite weekends to its members, who pay a $30 annual membership fee. 
Outings with loved ones: If you are looking for something to do with your father, local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association offer free social outings that Alzheimer’s patients and caregivers attend together.  Alzheimer’s Association events in the past have included private guided museum tours, tickets to a musical production, and clay pottery-wheel classes.
Paid Respite (Federal): The National Family Caregiver Support Program provides federal funds to state Area Agencies on Aging to help caregivers better manage their responsibilities to keep their loved ones at home, including paid respite. To qualify, caregivers must be 18 or older, must be unpaid by the patient, and must be caring for a loved one age 60 or older, or of any age if they have Alzheimer’s disease or related disorders. Respite care ranges from several hours in an adult day care center or in the patient’s own home, to several days in a respite-approved facility. 
State Lifespan Respite Care Programs, available in 32 states and the District of Columbia, provide “coordinated, community-based respite for family caregivers caring for individuals with special needs of all ages.” 
Respite for Veterans: In addition, through the VA, veterans are eligible to receive up to 30 days of respite care annually while the family caregiver takes a break. 
Hospice patients receive up to 5 days of respite care paid for by Medicare at an approved facility. Medicaid patients also qualify for paid respite, usually through an adult day care program.
Training classes: Caregivers can access free training classes through a local Area Agency on Aging, including the 6-week program known as “Powerful Tools for Caregivers.” This program teaches caregivers how best to take care of themselves. Local chapters of the Alzheimer’s Association also offer free caregiver training classes, such as the Savvy Caregiver Program, a 12-hour class conducted over 7-weeks designed for family caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementia.
Technology to help with caregiver scheduling“Let us know what we can do to help” is a common sentiment expressed by friends and family, but it’s often turned down by caregivers who don’t want to burden other people. So they end up isolating themselves when they should be saying ‘yes.’ Websites, such as Lotsahelpinghands.com and apps, such as CareZone and Unfrazzle, can provide help with caregiving scheduling.
Hope these resources are helpful for you! 
Arfs and kisses,
Baxter

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