If you are a family caregiver, you understand the sacrifice and challenges that comes with the job. You also know the great rewards that come with investing in those who have invested so much in you. Yet it is no secret that caregiving can take a toll. You may not find caregiving to be a drudgery, but even the most motivated and energetic people need respite.
Caregiving is often a full time job and there’s no pay involved to take care of your aging parents, or so you might think. What if we told you that there are ways for you to get paid for your caregiving? There are resources available for those who make caring their loving duty and full time occupation, but they do not exist in plain sight. The following are some of those resources for family caregivers to explore whether or not they qualify for financial help.
Step 1: Do you qualify for aid?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), founded in 1990, was created by the government to protect and help those who have disabilities that interfere with daily life. Disabilities or diseases that interfere with work, transportation, mobility, using senses, or other cognitive impairments are qualifiers for aid. The inability to properly care for yourself is considered means for ADA support. The ADA does not strictly apply to citizens over 65, but it is a beneficial program nonetheless and may help qualify you for benefits.
In addition to the ADA, Medicare helps to pay for medical-related services in the home. To qualify, an applicant must be 65 years or older and must also be in need of at-home medical services. Medicare will not pay for private-duty home care, nor does it disburse funds to family caregivers. But, if your loved one has limited mobility, talk to a home care provider near you to see what services they might qualify for under Medicare.
Step 2: Make use of benefits that will make your life easier.
If your loved one has a disability or chronic illness that is limiting, proper adjustments to suit their needs can be provided in your home for little or no charge. There are plenty of organizations that can help pay for home modifications, including the VA, Rebuilding Together, National Resource Center on Supportive Housing and Home Modification, among others. You can find more at disability.gov. These modifications can help to make a home more liveable and help those receiving care be more independent in their daily lives.
Get paid for the work you’re already doing.
Cash and Counseling is a pilot program currently running in fifteen states that offers supportive services to family caregivers. The concept is to allow a family caregiver to be hired in lieu of a home care provider. This means a family caregiver can receive compensation for their time. Cash and Counseling programs have different names in different states so it’s a good idea to find out what your area offers. The funding comes from Medicaid. Even if the recipient makes too much money to qualify for Medicaid, they may still be eligible to receive aid from Cash and Counseling. These payments may be made to a loved one, or they can be directly disbursed to a caregiver. To find out if your state is participating in the program, and to see if you qualify, go to the Cash and Counseling locater.
National Family Caregiver Support Program
The National Family Caregiver Support Program was established to provide a variety of support services to states and territories based on their population of people over 70. One of the most common resources they provide are vouchers. Vouchers for respite care can be provided for caregivers who need a break. These vouchers can be redeemed at preselected home care service providers in order for family caregivers to rest. The vouchers are usually redeemed for respite care at home, but also work for adult day care or for an overnight residential facility. Policies for respite care are dictated by the Area Agency on Aging, so not all are the same. For example, one AAA provider sets their limits at 32 hours of respite care for every 3 months, while another sets limits at $3,500 in services per year. Keep in mind that this information is subject to change as it is based on the program’s availability and budget. Eligibility evaluation and processing times vary based on a multitude of changing factors. Applicants should expect to be put on a several months’ waiting list between the time of first contact and receiving care. Besides this, the program also offers training, support groups, and counseling.
The National Council on Aging has a website specifically designed to help caregivers find benefits that are available to them. BenefitsCheckUp is a great place to find what is available in your state or territory that can support you. From help with paying for food to prescriptions to medical care and more, you might be surprised at what is available. The US Department of Veterans Affairs also provides support to elderly veterans. If your loved one served in the military, they may be eligible for assistance through the VA.
Care for You
In the midst of caring for your loved one, don’t forget about yourself. The task of caregiving is no picnic, and taking care of your needs is just as important. If you are not getting the support you need and are feeling burnt out, you can’t be at your best for your family. There are many emotions that result from the caregiving experience such as grief, guilt, anger, or worry. You are not the only one. There are many support groups for caregivers who understand each other and can help you. Don’t try to do it all. If you need help, accept that you, like everyone else, need some assistance once in awhile.