If you care for someone who has a disability, or is older, you are a caregiver.
An estimated 3.4 million Texans help a loved one with their activities of daily living, like bathing, eating, dressing and hygiene. Family or paid staff may provide caregiver support to a person with physical, behavioral or medical conditions.
Being a caregiver can be demanding, but caregivers often feel tremendous satisfaction in providing care to their loved ones.
The following low-cost community-based services — like respite, support groups, counseling and service coordination — can help you.
Resources for Caregivers and the People They Care for:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has helpful information specific to caregivers.
- The Caregiver Action Network has helpful tips and information.
- The Alzheimer’s Association has helpful tips for providing care to a person with dementia during the pandemic.
A recent survey found that about one in four caregivers say they have difficulty caring for their own health. Respite care, when someone else looks after your loved one while you take a break, is a great way for a caregiver to take some time for themselves.
The HHS Take Time Texas website has resources to help caregivers, including:
- A search function that finds respite providers in Texas
- Testimonials from families who use respite
- Links to national resources
- Resources for family caregivers
- Common myths about respite
Advance Care and End-of-Life Care Planning
Advance care planning is the process of making decisions about the care you'd like to receive in the event of medical crisis or at the end of your life. Although difficult, planning ahead can reduce the stress experienced by loved ones while allowing a person’s wishes to be honored during a medical crisis or end-of-life. Below are some of the main elements of advanced care planning:
- Advance directives are pre-existing orders that a person creates to provide specific directions and wishes in the event they are unable to communicate those decisions themselves.
- Palliative Care and Hospice
- Palliative care is intended to help people who have a serious illness feel better. For more information, visit the Palliative Care website.
- Hospice is comprehensive care for a person with a terminal illness who is no longer receiving treatments intended to cure the illness. To learn more, visit the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization Website.
Community organizations can alleviate stress by addressing the challenges that may arise when caregiving. Examples of support services include:
- Home modification
- Care coordination
- Home health and home care
- Home-delivered meals
- Benefits counseling
- Evidenced-based health and wellness classes
Aging and Disability Resource Centers serve all Texas counties to provide streamlined access to important support services. A part of the No Wrong Door system, ADRC staff can provide caregivers with referrals to national, state and community services.
Emergencies can happen at any time and planning ahead is important — especially for caregivers.
- Administration on Community Living has compiled a list of helpful preparedness resources for older adults and their families.
- Department of Homeland Security’s Ready campaign provides families with resources to make an emergency plan.
- The Administrative for Community Living, National Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource Center, and Research Triangle Institute offer this disaster planning toolkit for people living with dementia.
Emotional and Peer Support
For caregivers, having access to other people who are also experiencing similar challenges and lessons creates a community and lets them know they are not alone. Support and peer groups also provide caregivers with the opportunity to learn from other’s expertise and express their own caregiving challenges.
Caregiving also affects employers and communities. Employers can support their employees by providing caregiving benefits, such as referrals to caregiver supports, flexible schedules, support groups and discounted home health services. Communities can support caregivers by making sure there are respite resources to meet their needs. To find out more about how your community can support caregivers, read this respite issue brief (PDF).
Training opportunities can provide caregivers with the tools, resources and supports they need to provide care for their loved ones.
- Caregivers providing care for a loved one with dementia could benefit from ongoing training and support. The Alzheimer’s Association is a good source for this support.
- New caregivers can connect with a supportive community and receive important resources through the Caregiver Action Network or WellMed Charitable Foundation.
- The Family Caregiver Alliance provides classes for caregivers and fact sheets on caregiving for different types of patients.
- AARP's Home Alone Alliance Initiative has compiled practical videos for caregivers on daily tasks they may complete with their care recipient.
- Next Step in Care has guides and checklists for caregivers, including guides for doctor visits, managing medications and emergency room visits.
- Supported decision-making agreements allow people who may struggle with managing their affairs to remain in control of their lives and to make their own decisions with support and assistance. Through a SDMA, a person chooses someone they trust to serve as their supporter. The supporter can help the person:
- Understand the options, responsibilities and consequences of their decisions.
- Obtain and understand information relevant to their decisions.
- Communicate their decisions to the appropriate people.
- Guardianship is a legal process to determine if, due to a physical or mental condition, a person is “incapacitated” and therefore unable to manage their affairs on their own. Under a guardianship, someone is named to make decisions on behalf of the person deemed incapacitated. In Texas, a person may designate a guardian before the need arises.
- For information about how to pre-designate a guardian, visit the guardianship and related procedures webpage.
- For general information about guardianship, visit the HHS guardianship webpage.
- Kinship custody: At times, family members are called on to care for a child that is related to them when the child’s parents are no longer able to care for them. For more information, visit the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website for more information about kindship care.
The following resources are a starting place for informal caregivers looking for help with financial planning and benefits.
- The National Alliance for Caregiving is a great resource for caregivers looking for financial planning resources and benefits.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has helpful tools for caregivers who are helping to manage their care recipient’s money.
- Next Avenue has helpful information about financial assistance for family caregivers.
- There are times that informal caregivers can be paid for being a caregiver. For more information, visit the AARP website.