Caring for Caregivers

Taking care of an older or ill family member can be enormously rewarding — but it can be physically and emotionally draining. And with the number of Americans age 65-plus projected to double by 2030, caregiving demands will only increase.

Studies about caregivers show that:

  • 40- 70% of caregivers show signs of depression;
  • One-third of family caregivers suffer from high blood pressure;
  • 50% have sleep problems;
  • The immune system of a family member in charge of a dementia sufferer can be compromised for up to three years after their duties have ended;
  • About 42 million U.S. family caregivers provide $450 billion a year in free care.

How do we take care of the caregiver who has little support? The following are local programs and community resources that offer family caregivers support, respite, coping strategies, and introductions to other caregivers.

Caregiver Respite:

In Fairfax County, caregiver respite service provides an opportunity for family caregivers to take a well-deserved break. They can run errands, work out at the gym, have coffee with a friend or take in a movie, knowing that their loved one is safe.

  • Help from a Certified Nursing Assistant: Fairfax County provides up to 6 hours of care per week from a certified nursing assistant to relieve a full-time family caregiver. There are income and functional requirements.
  • Help from a Volunteer: The county also provides up to 6 hours a month from a trained volunteer. The volunteer provides oversight and companionship. This service is free and there is no income requirement.
  • Adult Day Health Care Center: Using adult day services (ADS) just twice a week can reap surprising psychological and physical benefits for family caregivers. Fairfax County operates five centers that offer medical oversight, recreation and companionship to participants needing supervision during the day. Participants can attend 2-5 days a week.

The Fredericksburg, VA area has at least 29 Adult Day Care Centers that offer meaningful activities, new friendships and peace of mind for caregivers and seniors.

Caregiver Support:

Fairfax County provides support for the physical and emotional challenges involved with caregiving. Support groups – whether by phone or in person – can help build relationship and remove barriers to health and well-being.

  • Caregiver Support Groups in the Annandale, McLean and Mt. Vernon areas are led by nurses and take place at three of the county’s Adult Day Health Care Centers. You do not need a family member enrolled in one of the centers to join.
  • A Caregiver Telephone Support Group is available from the comfort of your own home. Caregivers can join a free support group facilitated by a county social worker each month on second Tuesdays. Register online or call 703-324-5484, TTY 711.

In Spotsylvania County, a Caregiver Support Group meets on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays in Fredericksburg.

Nationally, The Caregiver Community Action Network (CCAN) is a group of over 100 volunteers in more than 40 states. CCAN volunteers reach out to family caregivers to provide education and support. They also teach caregivers to be advocates for themselves and their loved ones. The U.S. Administration on Aging also offers a comprehensive listing of caregiving resources. In addition, the Family Caregiver Alliance offers a calendar of events and trainings for caregivers.

Caregiving can be both emotionally and mentally taxing, and can easily lead to caregiver burnout (Read our blog post about caregiver burnout and how to minimize the stresses involved with caregiving). Please encourage your family caregivers to take advantage of services that offer respite and support, and thank them for their strength, courage and commitment in providing long-term patient care.

At the Fairfax and Fredericksburg Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we recognize that caring for a loved one strains even the most resilient people. If you’re a caregiver, take steps to preserve your own health and well-being.  Part of taking care of yourself is planning for your future and for your loved ones. Please call us at our Virginia Elder Law Fairfax office at 703-691-1888 or at our Virginia Elder Law Fredericksburg office at 540-479-1435 to make an appointment for a consultation.



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About Evan H Farr, CELA, CAP

Evan H. Farr is a 4-time Best-Selling author in the field of Elder Law and Estate Planning. In addition to being one of approximately 500 Certified Elder Law Attorneys in the Country, Evan is one of approximately 100 members of the Council of Advanced Practitioners of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is a Charter Member of the Academy of Special Needs Planners.