Family members often play an indispensable role as advocate and ally in the life of a Medicare beneficiary. According to a 2019 study, 80% of adults who need long-term care are living at home with unpaid family caregivers providing 90% of their care.
Family caregivers may find satisfaction and fulfillment in giving back to those who once cared for them. The American Psychological Association reported caregivers often find peace of mind knowing their loved one is being cared for by a family member and that they’re passing on a “tradition of care,” hoping one day future generations will pay it forward.
In advocating for older loved ones, caregivers can learn what others in their family — including themselves — might need later in life. A University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging showed individuals managing home care, insurance and Medicare coverage, technology and more for family members with dementia are better prepared to manage similar scenarios down the line.
For clients who are caregivers — or for those who rely on one — the information we’ll provide here could lead to a more well-rounded and less stressful life.
Preventing Caregiver Burnout
Of course, caregivers may find some challenges in looking after elderly loved ones, too. Caregivers regularly report feeling overwhelmed and exhausted — physically, mentally and emotionally. A 2020 report by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) showed 64% of respondents rated their position as a caregiver moderate to highly stressful.
A few signs of caregiver burnout to look out for might include:
- Poor sleep habits
- Easily irritated, angered or saddened
- Heavy amounts of alcohol or smoking
- No time for personal care
- Getting sick more often
Consider the common airplane analogy that you must first put the oxygen mask on yourself before you can help save others. How can a caregiver provide care if they don’t take care of themselves?
Caregivers can set aside time for self-care, like a quick 10-minute walk or a five minute meditation on an app like Calm. And they shouldn’t forget to ask for help from other family members or look into respite care options.
How Medicare and Other Federal Programs Can Support Caregivers
Caregivers are important allies in the life of a Medicare beneficiary and deserve just as much support for the time and effort spent on those they love.
Established in 2000, the National Family Caregiver Support Program offers grants to states to support family caregivers providing care for older adults in their homes. The program includes services like:
- Providing information to caregivers on available services.
- Assisting caregivers in receiving these services.
- Offering counseling, support groups and training for caregivers.
- Providing respite care for caregivers.
- Extending supplemental services to caregivers.
Medicare beneficiaries often rely on their family caregivers to help them understand their benefits and find the right plans for them. To relieve some of the stress caregivers may feel in helping older loved ones, Medicare offers advice and resources for support.
Medicare also offers coverage for home health services to help offset some of the efforts made by family members who sacrifice the most to ensure their loved ones lead the most fulfilling and joyful lives possible.
LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The above is meant to be strictly educational and not intended to provide medical advice or solicit the sales of an insurance product or service of any kind.