Taking care of family members at home has its share of advantages, but it can also take quite a toll, especially if you don’t adequately plan for it. There are certain things you can plan for, and other things that will catch you off-guard, but if you’re thinking of taking care of family members at home, here’s what you need to know about being a family caregiver. 

This is an important role in our society, and the need and demand is growing. According to Paul Osterman, who works as a human resources professor at M.I.T., there will be a shortage of 3.8 million family caregivers in the United States by 2030. (source: freedomcareny.com)

What To Expect when Taking Care of Family Members at Home

Expect to have good days and bad days. On the worst days, you have to remember that it will get better. Depending on the condition of your loved one and what they’re dealing with, it can be heartbreaking to care for them each day and to see them getting worse, but it’s also important to cherish this time as much as you can.

It can be frusterating if your loved one dealing with cognitive issues. They could be mean towards you, they could be scared or confused you may feel helpless. They may lash out at you sometimes, which is so hard to deal with when you’re already dealing with caregiver role strain, you’ve had a long day, you’ve given them all of your energy, and they aren’t mentally capable of recognizing that or showing you gratitude for it anymore. It’s tough. But it’s something that caregivers understand, they work through, and this is more in the worst-case situations – usually it’s pretty good, especially if they aren’t as far along in the aging process. Care services offer to a parent by an adult child are a way for the adult child to give back after a lifetime of support, care, and financial assitance from their parents.

Things To Do To Prepare for Giving Care at Home

You’ll want to setup a support system. This is crucial, and often overlooked until it becomes needed. If you wait until you need the support system, you’ll have to deal with whatever is overwhelming you in addition to finding help. If you find the help ahead of time, you’ll have a much easier time when you need to call upon that help. This can include finding local respire care when you need it, talking to family members about helping at certain times when you need a break, and finding out what types of financial supports exist in your area.

Depending on whether your loved one is moving in with you, or you’re moving into their home, or you already live together – certain adjustmsnets may need to be made to the home in terms of safety. This includes things like installing hand rails in the bathroom, maybe a bathtub with a door for easier access, communications devices for virtual companion care, and more.

Home care can be a transition between totally independant living and long term care. The personal care that one gets in their own home is a lot better, in many cases, than going directly into long term care. It gives more time with loved ones, and until they need constant monitoring and health care, it’s a good option. Having a family member as a care provider as opposed to a stranger as a care provider helps with the process.

More: Aging in Place: Now is the Time To Start Planning

Financial Assistance for Taking Care of Family Members at Home

There are situations where you can get paid for taking care of a family member, which can be quite a relief in some cases, since the workload of caring for a loved one can take up quite a bit of one’s time and energy.

While family caregiving can be rewarding and much more practical than seeking outside care in some cases, it can also be costly. Every little bit helps, so here are some ways to lessen the financial burden.

Medicaid Programs: There are some Medicaid programs that could help with some of the costs of caring for a loved one. Check with your state offices to get a clearer picture of what the options are, but generally speaking if you have benefits for family caregivers, they will be in the optional Part D. Learn more about Medicaid Part D here.

Veterans: There may be funding availiable for family members who are caring for disabled Veterans, so this is worth looking into if you’re caring for somebody who served.

Tax credits: You may qualify for tax benefits from the IRS to help offset some of the costs of providing care for a loved one. 

More: How does paying family members for elder care work?

Final Thoughts on Taking Care of Family Members at Home

With what we’ve seen happening in care homes around the world in recent months, and less-than-ideal levels of care before for years and years before that in some cases, it’s no wonder that some families are thinking about keeping their loved ones at home for as long as possible. There are many positives to doing this, and some negatives too, so it’s important to be realistic and to know what to expect. Taking care of family members at home means you’re in control of the care they receive, and they’ll probably enjoy themselves a lot more like this than feeling abandoned in a home. Having said that, sometimes a home is the only option, and you can still be involved to make the most of that, so don’t feel guilty if that’s what you’re able to provide rather than taking care of your loved one at home.