Help for the Caregiver

If you’re caring for an aging parent or a disabled person, then you know how overwhelming the responsibility can be if you don’t have help. While most of us think that we can handle everything by ourselves, we all need help in some area. Today, I want to provide a few tips to caregivers who need someone to assist you with daily activities such as cooking, cleaning, or providing personal care. I also offer suggestions on how you can save money on acquiring these services and products.

Home Care

Visiting Angels offers services that some home care providers do not offer. You can request home care, personal care, and companion care. Depending on your needs, you can request all three services, but if not, one or two services may suit your loved one’s needs. For example, if your loved one is fairly independent in terms of taking a shower or bath, dressing, washing clothes, and feeding his or herself, then you may just want to request companion care particularly during times you will be away from the home for quite some time. This company offers a flat hourly fee. The Michigan fee schedule I received indicated that you can receive:

• 3 hours = $26.00 per hour
• 4 or more hours = $23.00 per hour
• 12 hours = $20.00 per hour
• 24 hours = $18.00 per hour

To obtain a copy of fees for your local area, visit the website, search for an office near you by entering your zip code, and contact a representative. This service works well when you need a break and the service provider can take your loved one shopping, spend time with him or her at home, or whatever you need the assistant to do. However, prior to acquiring the service, a Visiting Angel representative will need to visit your home or your loved one’s home to conduct an assessment to ensure that the appropriate level of care is provided.

Visiting Angels can help you in many ways especially if you’re the sole care provider of your loved one, and you’re having challenges acquiring long term committed help from family or friends. Since this is a professional agency, you can feel confident that professional help will be provided, and if it’s not provided, they will be held accountable for failing to fulfill their fiduciary duties.

Personal Care

When it comes to assisting a loved one in maintaining his or hers personal care, there are a few products that can help maintain their independence.

Incontinence Supplies – If your loved one or someone you’re caring for needs incontinence supplies on a regular basis such as briefs, it’s best to buy the products in bulk to reduce the extra expense that can quickly incur if you purchased single packs that only lasts for a few days. Major retailers like Walmart and Meijer offer 60 ct cases. A case typically costs between $21-$30, and a single pack costs between $7.88 -$15 depending on the current sale. If you purchase one case and a 20 ct package, your loved one’s supply should last for one month. You can also keep this cycle going whenever you have extra money so that you’ll have extra in stock just in case there’s a power outage in your local area, and you can’t run to the store or if you’re low on funds. Thinking ahead can save you the grief of not being prepared among other unpleasant situations.

No-Rinse Shampoo – This product is a good product to use if the person you’re taking of can’t step inside the shower or bend over the kitchen sink. All you have to do is pour a sufficient amount through the hair and massage the shampoo in as you would regular shampoo. The shampoo will lather and clean the hair thoroughly. When you’re done, just take a towel and dry the hair. You can also use the no rinse conditioner to give the hair a smooth and silky shine. You can find no-rinse shampoo at a local drug store or beauty supply store. No-Rinse Shampoo Caps are also available if you prefer to give your patient a warm shampoo experience.

Make Monthly Errands or Order Online

After my mother was discharged from the hospital after having a stroke, I would go to the store to pick up her medicine and personal supplies every few days. This responsibility was new to me, and I became quickly overwhelmed especially with the expense. However, after months of doing this, I started paying attention to her prescription refill dates and her personal supply stock. That’s when I came up with the solution to make a monthly Walmart trip to purchase everything she needed for the month. The cost for her incontinence supplies cost me a little over $29.00 which was significantly lower than purchasing $10-$11 packages every few days. When I decided to do it this way, the mental stress lifted from having to figure out how I was going to accomplish this goal.

If your loved one is low-income, you can check with your state’s Medicaid program to see if he or she is eligible for this type of medical insurance. If so, you can apply for your state’s incontinence program if one is available. This program will supply incontinence items for free. Since this is the type of personal care item that is highly consumable, cutting costs is necessary and it can free up money that can be used for other necessities such as medicine or food.

You may also be able to apply for a paid position as your loved one’s caregiver. Check your state’s Department of Human Services to see if they offer a Home Help Program like the one Michigan offers. This program allows anyone whom your loved one designates to be his or hers care provider. You can get paid for light household chores, grooming, feeding, medicine administration, transportation, meal preparation, and other services. This type of program allows your loved one to stay in their home, and helps you financially if you’ve had to reduce your work hours or if you’re unemployed. I also discovered that the State of Michigan also permits you to provide care for other individuals who need assistance. So if you need extra income, you can assist several clients if you enjoy helping the elderly or the disabled. However, this program does have an income limit so if your loved one receives more than the limit amount, you won’t be eligible for this paid position and your loved one may not qualify for Medicaid. If she or he does qualify for Medicaid, then you can get paid for as long as your loved one needs your help.

Secure the Help You Need

Medicare does not pay for everything. Therefore, there may be times when you’ll have to pay for services and products to ensure that your loved one has the assistance he or she needs without being a burden to those who are not interested in providing assistance.

Connect with Online Caregiver Resources

AARP offers information to assist caregivers and seniors with the services they need to remain independent. However, if you don’t have time to attend or visit some of the places that are suggested on the website, you can get ideas on how to care for yourself and your loved one on YouTube. TED Talks uploads videos of speakers who offer advice on a variety of topics including caregiving. The short motivational speeches can be a life saver when you feel like you’re drowning in responsibility. After listening to speakers who’ve had similar experiences, you won’t feel so isolated or hopeless. We all need help in one way or another, but when you can’t get the help you need, be proactive and start looking outside your social circle. You’ll discover that you have more help at your disposable than you thought you did. Take care of yourself and enjoy every moment you have to show love to the one you’re caring for.

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