By Bernard Freeman
The federally funded National Family Caregiver Support Program provides grants to states that pay for a variety of different support systems for people who are caring for family members, with the intention of avoiding caregiver burnout and helping older Americans stay in their homes as long as possible.
This is good not only for the adults, who remain part of their social circle, but it also tends to cost less than putting people in group homes.
According to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the services include counseling, organizing support groups, caregiver training, respite care and supplemental services, as well as helping people access these and other services available through government programs and nonprofit organizations.
These are not intended to be a full suite of services or provide full-time care, but can give caregivers a break or help fill specific needs. Studies have shown that such services help reduce depression, anxiety and stress among caregivers, as well as helping them provide care longer.
Eligible caregivers include adult family members or other informal caregivers who provide care to individuals who are 60 years of age and older or who are providing care to people of any age with Alzheimer’s disease or other neurological disorders. Services also are available to people who are 55 years or older and raising children who aren’t theirs or who are providing care to adults with disabilities.
According to the ACL, about 700,000 caregivers received services in 2014, including more than 1.3 million contacts with caregivers to help connect them with services; peer support groups, counseling and training for more than 100,000 caregivers to help them cope with the stresses they’re feeling; and respite care of almost 6 million hours for more than 600,000 caregivers, offering relief from their caregiving responsibilities and allowing the caregivers time to take care of themselves.
Almost three-fourths of caregivers who used the program said these services allowed them to provide care at home for longer than they could have otherwise.
The services offered are different in each state, and not every caregiver will be eligible for all of the programs. Check with your state to see what specific services are available.