Taking care of an elderly loved one can be a full-time job, and if you have other responsibilities on top of caregiving, you can quickly burn out. Many caregivers feel guilty asking for help or taking a break, but it’s crucial to have support so you can do your job better. As more seniors are retiring and leaning on family members for care, more services and assistance are available for caregivers. Here are a few places you can start in St. Petersburg.
The Alzheimer’s Association has made huge strides in research and awareness of the disease, but they also realize the importance of supporting caregivers for Alzheimer’s. The Florida Gulf Coast Chapter serves 17 counties along the Gulf Coast and provides services to help caregivers with their duties.
Support groups are a valuable tool for any caregiver but especially Alzheimer’s caregivers. Going to a meeting with other caregivers and sharing experiences and knowledge can help relieve stress and give you a break from your duties. There are a few meetings in St. Petersburg, so you can check the calendar to see when and where.
If you’ve never been a caregiver before, it might feel overwhelming to take care of someone else suddenly. The Alzheimer’s Association has caregiver training courses so you can learn some of the basics about your new job and how to handle any situation that might occur. There are also community events to help raise awareness of the disease and educate others on how to interact with Alzheimer’s patients. You can see a full list of courses and times here.
It’s important to take regular breaks too, and the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter hosts a Caregivers Day Out event every year. The chapter plans a fun activity like a picnic or baseball game, and you can spend a few hours with other caregivers relaxing. Local partners donate respite care, so you don’t have to worry about your loved one while you’re out.
There is also a 24-hour helpline at (800) 272-3900 and online resources at the caregiver resource center.
Caregivers can find helpful information through the Area Agency on Aging website like how to make medical decisions for a loved one and what it means to be a caregiver. The agency also provides services like transportation to appointments and meal delivery services which can be useful for busy caregivers. If you want to speak to the office, you can call (727) 570-9696 or call the helpline at (800) 963-5337.
Veterans aren’t the only people who can benefit from the VA healthcare system; their caregivers can too. The VA healthcare system has caregiver services that include things like:
Helpline for assistance whenever you need it
Support groups led by other caregivers
Caregiver Support Coordinator to match services to your needs
Respite care in the form of adult day care or in-home health care
A home telehealth system to help housebound seniors receive medical care
If you’re interested in any of these services and want to learn more, contact the Caregiver Support Coordinator at (239) 652-1800 ext. 21483.
The Department of Elder Affairs offers many caregiver support programs including the National Family Caregiver Support Program. Through this program, caregivers can receive training, supplemental services, respite care, and more for their loved ones. You can call (800) 963-5337 to find out more about their services.
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