The need for caregivers is greater today than ever. More and more young people are finding themselves taking on the responsibility of caring for a loved one, and many caregivers find themselves thrust into the role when a relative has an unexpected accident or diagnosis.
It can be as terrifying as it is critical, and most new caregivers need one thing above all else: help. They have no idea what to expect, what they’re doing, or what’s even normal to think and feel, and because it happens quickly they often have no idea what kinds of support are available.
For caregivers, there are actually a tremendous number of resources out there if you know where to look. Finding the right community and info can be the difference between stress and success, and we’re covering all the bases so you know where to go and who to know as you begin your journey as a caregiver.
I’m a Caregiver Now. How Did I Get Here?
The decision to be a caregiver often has to happen with little or no preparation, and it can be a major upheaval in life’s trajectory. 1-in-6 people who are not currently caregivers will become one in the next two years, and a third of them will be investing more than 20 hours a week.
The reason is that becoming a care provider in many cases is not a choice; there’s simply no other practical alternative. 76% of care recipients are over 65, and odds are that person is a grandparent or a parent. We love them and we desperately want them to have the care they need. Unfortunately, caregiving is also expensive, and the home care that is being provided for free by children and grandchildren is worth about $470 billion in a professional facility.
That vise of family and money are why so many people—and increasingly young people—find themselves suddenly floundering in a new and completely unfamiliar role that a cherished family member can’t live without.
We’ve Got You!
You had a plan. You were on course. You were just getting the wind in your sails, and now you’re overboard in the deep end and you have to swim. Help! What kinds of support are available for caregivers like me?
Don’t worry, you’re in luck! There are many resources available covering everything you need to care for someone else, as well as—and listen up on this one—caring for yourself. From how to operate that complicated new bed to making time for your morning tea, here’s where and how you can get the caregiving support you need.
Check Your Contacts
This might seem obvious, but your phone is probably full of people who can help you stay on top of everything. You’re caring for a loved one because you love and support them, and spoiler alert: there are a lot of people out there who are willing to help you because they love you too.
Most of us don’t like asking for help, but if you reach out just a bit, your friends and family will probably step up. A little coordinated help with running errands and doing chores can save your time AND your sanity.
There’s one more thing they can offer you that’s incredibly valuable and can’t be gotten on your own: perspective. One of the most important pieces of self-care you can give yourself is being open to what they’re seeing and listening to what they’re saying. They love you, and they want to help you. Make sure to leave the door open and the light on for them to stop by.
Remember those stats about caregivers above? You are not alone. Say it again.
There are millions of caregivers out there just like you, and there are many in-person and online communities where you can join the conversation and get real-life advice from people who have gone through what you’re going through. It’s astonishing how much difference a few lines of meaningful communication with a real person can make when you’re under pressure.
A solid online community can be your best ally for reducing stress, getting the services and support you need, and giving you the confidence and peace-of-mind to make informed decisions when they need to be made. A little time invested connecting will save you hours of go-it-alone agony and more than a few gray hairs.
Seek Out Experts in the Field
When you’re looking for a community, keep an eye out for ones in which caregiving professionals are participating. In the caregiving world, you’ll find that experts tend to be very open with offering assistance. They get paid to do what you’re doing for free, and they know exactly how difficult and valuable the services are you’re providing. A few pro tips here and there can be make-or-break when the pressure’s on.
I-Ally: Where Caregiver Support Begins
Millennials comprise nearly a third of all caregivers, and it’s a particularly difficult challenge for young, career-oriented people to undertake. When life’s course shifts quickly you can find yourself in the midst of home care before you even know what kinds of support are available for caregivers.
We started I-Ally to provide you with the community and expertise you need to be successful, healthy, and well-balanced as you shoulder the responsibility of caring for someone who needs you. I-Ally is not just a place for support, resources, and guidance for health and wellbeing; it’s about empowering you to live your best life while supporting the needs of the people who mean the most to you.