Tag Archives: caregiver support

Perfect Gift for Caregivers

The perfect gift for caregivers is: a) a massage, b) dinner out, or c) night at the movies? They’re excellent choices, but last week  I got something better than all three combined. Have you ever considered taking Family Medical Leave to give a caregiver a break? I’m so grateful that my sister did that for me.

Perfect Gift for Caregivers

If you work in a business that has 50 or more employees within a 75 mile area you may be eligible to take time off to help with family caregiving. In some cases, the employee on leave is allowed to use paid sick days or vacation time so they can collect salary during the leave. Obviously, retaining your regular salary makes it a lot easier to take leave and help a family member. You may have to go through an approval process to ensure that happens.

The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was approved in 1993 and the legislation explains conditions required for eligibility. For example, an employee “must have been at the business at least 12 months, and worked at least 1,250 hours over the past 12 months, and worked at a location where the company employs 50 or more employees within 75 miles.”

Many people still think of FMLA as a provision for women on maternity leave or fathers helping with care of a newborn. But leave can be approved for other reasons, too. The U.S. Department of Labor provides a list of situations covered by family leave:

  • The birth of a son or daughter or placement of a son or daughter with the employee for adoption or foster care;
  • To care for a spouse, son, daughter, or parent who has a serious health condition;
  • For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job; or
  • For any qualifying exigency arising out of the fact that a spouse, son, daughter, or parent is a military member on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status.

In my family’s case, we had to provide my sister’s employer with medical verification of my mother’s serious health condition (dementia). This documentation was obtained from a doctor who’s treated my mom for many years. Once the paperwork was completed, we worked out the dates for her leave.

A few days respite from #caregiving was the perfect gift for me. I had time to visit friends and take care of neglected business matters. One afternoon I even had the luxury of visiting Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation  with a friend from college. During those few hours, I felt like I was back at school again, seeing new things with a curious, well-rested mind.

People who haven’t been a #caregiver may not realize how this responsibility shapes, absorbs, and sometimes overwhelms our thinking. Even a short break helps us rediscover our interests and regain a sense of balance. Mother’s Day is almost here. Could you provide this kind of gift to someone in your family? Is there anyone you can ask to do it for you?

Respite Care for Caregivers

Respite care is a resource that dementia caregivers may want to explore. Reader comments sparked by my piece on family support showed that many of you really need assistance. Respite care isn’t available everywhere, but I’m offering some tips for finding out if this life preserver is offered in your area.

Respite Care for Caregivers

The search begins at your Area Agency on Aging. The purpose of these agencies is to “help older adults and people with disabilities live with dignity and choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible”.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services oversees the nation’s network of Area Agencies on Aging. Click on this link to find your home state and county. Most states have an Area Agency on Aging (AAA) in each county. If you reside in Arkansas, Delaware, Nevada, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Wyoming or the District of Columbia, you have no county agency. Your state AAA serves all communities.

If your county or state link doesn’t work (mine didn’t!), just do a Google search for your State/County Area Agency on Aging. I won’t vouch for the quality of agency services. The first time my mom lived with me, our local agency on aging was wonderful. They came to our house and did a prompt assessment. My mom was eligible for subsidized adult day care services. Her participation in the adult day program helped me keep working while caring for her in my home. Back then, she was walking and talking. I believe the adult day program kept her healthy longer.

After that period, my mother lived away from me for a while and my sister managed her care. Last year when Mom returned to my house, I called the Area Agency on Aging right away. Now the agency’s service is terrible. It has taken them to months to complete my mom’s assessment. I’m telling you this because you need to be ready to stamp your feet if you don’t get their attention right away.

Even if you have to wait, it’s worth it. Just get your name on their list. When it comes to programs that support dementia patients and their families, the Agency on Aging people know a lot. Services in states like New Jersey are pretty extensive. They have a Statewide Respite Care Program that provides services for elderly people and their caregivers. The program is designed to “relieve unpaid caregivers of stress arising from the responsibility of providing daily care”. You can also look at the ARCHRespite Care site to see if your state has received a grant to provide Lifespan Respite Care services.

If you or your loved one served in the U.S. Armed Forces, you may be eligible for respite benefits through the Veterans Administration (VA). The VA “provides inpatient respite coverage for up to 30 days per year for qualified veterans. In addition, when war-time vets care for their spouses, funding for in-home services are available on a state-by-state basis”.

To find the right program for your family, you may have to scroll through a lot of useless stuff. But one of these links may guide you to a site or service that can make a huge difference in your life. Next week, I’ll share some unconventional methods I’ve used to get support at home. In the meantime, best of luck in your efforts to find assistance.