Help for Caregivers

Are you caring long-term for a sick or disabled loved one? If so, you may sometimes feel alone and overwhelmed. Luckily, there are many ways to get support.

Connecting with Other Caregivers

Consider talking to someone else, like a friend, family member, therapist or clergy member. Join an in-person or online support group to connect with other caregivers, who can be especially helpful.

To find support groups, call your local Area Agency on Aging (AAA). The AAA helps older adults and their caregivers. You can find contact information for your local AAA at eldercare.gov and on this list. The AAA can help you find ways to keep yourself healthy while caregiving.

You can also call the AARP Caregiving Support Line (877-333-5885) or visit the online support group at AgingCare.com.

Getting Paid for Caregiving

Many caregivers have to quit their jobs or cut back at work and would like to get paid for caregiving. Medicare pays for some nursing care, but not day-to-day tasks like bathing and feeding. Here are some other possibilities to consider:

  • Medicaid. Medicaid is a public health insurance program for low-income people. If your loved one might qualify, contact your AAA or your local Medicaid office.
  • Veterans Administration (VA). Some programs help veterans pay their caregivers. Call the VA’s Caregiver Support Line at 855-260-3274.
  • Long-term care insurance. If your loved one has long-term care insurance, the policy may pay for in-home help.
  • Claim your loved one as a dependent. Are you paying more than 50 percent of your loved one’s expenses? If so, you may be able to claim him or her as a dependent and get a tax break. Talk to your accountant or tax preparer.

Respite Care

Respite care means that someone else temporarily takes over caregiving. Your loved one can stay in a nursing home for a few days. Or, a home care worker may come to his or her home. Respite care may be for just a few hours, or long enough for you to take a vacation.

Check your local AAA for respite care and resources. You can find care providers at the Access to Respite Care and Help (ARCH) National Respite Network and Resource Center at archrespite.org.

Finding Professional Help at Home

You can hire part-time or full-time home care workers to help with daily caregiving tasks. Some can provide basic medical care, like giving patients their medicine.

Look for a home care worker at your local AAA. This Family Caregiver Alliance guide offers tips on the hiring process.

Usually you must pay directly for in-home care services. However, some of the options listed under “Getting Paid for Caregiving” may help with the cost.

Finding Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

Sometimes it’s not safe for your loved one to live at home. There are two options for long-term care:

  • Assisted living facilities: For people who have difficulty living alone but don’t need daily nursing care.
  • Nursing homes (skilled nursing facilities): For people who do need daily nursing care.

To find a facility, you can ask your local AAA, a trusted doctor or your loved one’s hospital social worker or case manager. Check quality scores on Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website.

Paying for a Nursing Home

Medicare may pay for a skilled nursing facility for up to 100 days. Medicare will not pay for longer-term nursing home care.

Long-term care can be very expensive. If your loved one has long-term care insurance, that may cover assisted living or nursing home care. If he or she doesn’t have much money, Medicaid may pay for nursing home care. Otherwise, your loved one will likely have to pay directly for nursing home care. This can go on until he or she spends enough savings to be eligible for Medicaid coverage. Talk to a lawyer or caseworker about these options.