February 27th, 2019 | BY: Allegra Chaney

Caregiver Health Problems: Support for When the Caregiver Gets Sick

Dear Allegra:

I’m a caregiver for my 85-year-old mother, but I also have some health issues of my own. I have neurological problems and fibromyalgia. The stress and physical demands of caregiving may have made my own health worse. Is caregiving hazardous to one’s physical health?

My physician has suggested I quit working so I can get my health back on track. While my Medicaid will cover some of my expenses, I’m not sure how I will make ends meet.

I will qualify for disability, but I’ve heard it sometimes takes a while. My mother only has a modest income from her social security.

Do you know of any resources my mom and I might qualify for? We are hoping if we can find some social support programs for food and housing expenses, it will benefit us both for me to stop working.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Sincerely,

Lorri

Supporting the Needs of Families When the Caregiver Gets Sick

Dear Lorri:

If it helps you to hear this, your situation is one family caregivers often find themselves in. You aren’t alone. Caregiving is an emotionally and physically demanding role. The toll it takes on an adult child’s life can lead to caregiver health problems.

It sounds as if your physician believes caregiving responsibilities are exacerbating your own health problems. While the idea of giving up your job is probably frightening, it may help improve your health as well as your mother’s health.

Here are a few ideas to explore for you and your mom:

Agency on aging

Call your local agency on aging office. They often know of area programs that are available to aid low-income seniors, such as transportation and respite care. Some also have social workers who come to a senior’s home to help connect them with resources and support.

Home delivered meals

Investigate local meals on wheels programs. Most communities have organizations that deliver meals to homebound seniors and those with disabilities. They typically assess fees on a sliding scale based on income. This is one avenue of support that will save you time and money.

National assistance programs

The National Council on Aging has an easy-to-use tool that helps older adults connect with a variety of resources. Benefits CheckUp uses your zip code, age, and income to determine if you qualify for assistance. Programs range from help financing prescription medication to assistance with utilities and food.

Friendly visitor program

If you or your mother belong to a church or synagogue, talk with them about friendly visitor programs. Many religious organizations have volunteers who pay personal visits to homebound parishioners. They read to seniors, listen to their stores, and provide companionship. You could rest or tend to other duties while the volunteer visits with your mother.

In-home care

Another suggestion to consider is home care, especially while you are still working. Home care services are a good value for those who need help with personal care, light housekeeping, or meal preparation. It can lighten your load and ensure your mother gets the care she needs.

I hope these suggestions prove useful, Lorri! Best wishes to you and your mother.

Kind regards,

Allegra