Best of 2016: GoodTherapy.org’s Top 10 Resources for Caregiver Issues

Seal reading "2016 Top Ten Caregiver Resources Presented by GoodTherapy.org" surrounded by starsAlmost everyone knows someone who is a caregiver or who has served in a caregiving role for someone else. Data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that more than one in five households in the United States—home to more than 34 million unpaid caregivers for people age 18 or older—is actively affected by caregiving responsibilities at any given time.

Whether providing care for an aging loved one or for a person with a chronic illness or disability, the awesome (and often thankless) responsibility of caregiving can take a major toll on a person’s mental health. According to the American Psychological Association, caregivers commonly report depression, anxiety, and a range of subclinical stresses—from guilt to worry to ambivalence about care. Then, of course, there are the potential physical health problems associated with caregiving, including stress-related illness, fatigue, and impaired sleep. It’s a vicious cycle: many caregivers say these conditions in turn affect their ability to provide quality care.

But the issues many caregivers face aren’t limited to psychological or physical health concerns. Many caregivers can’t afford to hire professional help and thus are essentially on constant duty, some without any support within the family system. Some have no choice but to quit their jobs or scale back their work hours, adding to their financial strain. With little time for self-care or personal pursuits, relationships and romantic prospects commonly suffer.

Indeed, the family dynamic as a whole may be adversely affected, as time and energy that might otherwise be spent with children or other family members is redirected toward the person needing care. It may come as no surprise, then, that many caregivers develop resentment over time as their caregiving efforts come at the expense of their own quality of life.

GoodTherapy.org believes connecting caregivers to support is essential, as so many facets of their lives and well-being are impacted by their tireless work. In that spirit, we have compiled our top 10 resources of 2016 for caregiver issues. Presented in no particular order, these resources were selected based on content, quality, and presentation.

  • Family Caregiver Alliance: A community-based nonprofit founded in the 1970s, FCA bills itself as a “public voice for caregivers.” Its site aims to connect caregivers to services, education programs, and resources to help them navigate the complex challenges of caregiving while advocating for their interests in the public domain.
  • Caregiver Action Network: Founded in 1993 by friends Suzanne Mintz and Cindy Fowler, this nonprofit organization (formerly known as the National Family Caregivers Association) takes a practical approach to serving and supporting people in a variety of caregiving situations—from new caregivers to longtime providers of care to people who want to help a family member from afar.
  • National Alliance for Caregiving: A nonprofit coalition of organizations committed to advocacy efforts focused on research and innovation, the Alliance seeks to raise public awareness of caregiver issues through legislation tracking, policy analysis, and the development of best-practice programs.
  • Aging Life Care Association: Tailored to the unique challenges of caregiving for older adults, this organization seeks to connect people in need of caregiving support with qualified professionals who specialize in geriatric care. ALCA’s site also offers a variety of articles, written by helping professionals in its membership, on a range of caregiving topics.
  • Lotsa Helping Hands: Recognizing that a little help can make a big difference for overwhelmed caregivers, Lotsa Helping Hands allows people to form “communities” of support among their friends and family. With a simple click or two, caregivers can ask people within these communities for specific forms of assistance whenever they need it—a ride to a medical appointment, for instance, or a meal delivered to their home.
  • The National Caregivers Library: A free resource formed from an alliance of professional organizations serving older adults and their caregivers, this online library offers articles, a section for employers to become better informed about the physical and mental impact caregiving can have, tools such as checklists and tip sheets, and links to additional resources.
  • CaregiverStress.com: This resource, which is offered by Home Instead Senior Care, a network that works to help families keep aging family members at home, offers a large collection of caregiver resources, including articles, videos, expert advice, and a blog. The site also features a risk assessment for caregiver stress, a home safety assessment, and other toolkits. Articles and resources can be searched by type of stress experienced. Visitors to the site can also use it to begin a search for home care.
  • Caring From a Distance: A nonprofit organization developed to assist American adults who are caring for aging loved ones living far away, Caring from a Distance was created by individuals who had experienced these challenges in their own lives. The site provides informational resources, links and information about services, facilitates free conference calls, and aims to help individuals who are new to long-distance caregiving determine where to begin addressing the varied difficulties of the situation without becoming overwhelmed.
  • Elder Care Resources: A free resource for seniors and caregivers in the United States, this site is a network of more than 100 websites that offer information and resources to aging adults and their caregivers. The main site is organized by state, and visitors can choose their home state to be taken to a landing page where they can find a provider, access resources, seek advice on providing care, and download informational articles as well as tips and worksheets.
  • Daily Caring: Founded by a team of two individuals who have personal experience caring for aging family members, DailyCaring serves as a virtual center of caregiving tips, information, and resources. Visitors to the website can search for information regarding daily care, caregiver wellness, assisted living, financial matters, and any number of other topics related to caregiving. The extensive information provided on the website is entirely free, and a free subscription service also provides daily tips through email.

Have a favorite website dedicated to caregiver issues and don’t see it on our list? Nominate it here.

References:

  1. Common caregiving problems. (n.d.). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/about/publications/caregivers/practice-settings/common-problems
  2. Family caregiving: The facts. (2011, September 7). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/facts.htm

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Carrynne

    December 28th, 2016 at 7:28 AM

    What a wonderful comprehensive list of sites!
    I know so many people who will find these links useful as I know a lot of people in my life right now who are having to care for another person who is sick or older.
    Thanks for the guidance

  • evie

    December 28th, 2016 at 9:32 AM

    My mom and I have been taking care of my dad for a few months now and I wish that we could either hire someone to help us or put him in a nursing home, but right now we don’t have the money to do that. Being on call all the time is wearing both of us down but right now there is really no other alternative. I hope that something good could happen for us soon, so I will be checking out some of these websites to see if there are some resources out there that we haven’t known about to access yet.

  • frederick

    December 29th, 2016 at 7:01 AM

    This is all work which is so necessary but yet goes so unappreciated for the most part
    Imagine sitting with someone day in and day out who is unable to do anything for themselves and depend on you for everything. It is like having a small child but even harder because this is likely an adult who once had to help take care of you.
    The roles reverse as they grow older and it becomes hard to see them incapacitated knowing how strong they probably once were.

  • Tindall

    December 29th, 2016 at 3:24 PM

    It would be so helpful if hospice care would share some of these with the families with whom they are working.

  • Carlos

    December 30th, 2016 at 9:14 AM

    Most of the time these are caregivers who give way more of their own time and energy than they ever receive in return with pay or thanks. I guess most of the are like little visiting angels and they don’t really care about the pay or the credit, they just like to know that what they are doing is genuinely helping out another person. They inspire me really to do more with my own life.

  • Ginger

    December 31st, 2016 at 7:55 AM

    My mother in law cared for her husband for four long years before he died this year.
    She quit her job and dedicated her every waking moment to caring for him.
    I admired her for what she was doing but I will admit that there were times that It felt to me like she was trying to be a martyr because she wouldn’t accept any help from any of the rest of us.
    Since he has gone though she has lost a part of herself, and I feel really bad for her because she gave up all these years of her life, but she is still healthy and vital and yet now she doesn’t know her purpose anymore.

  • Amy S.

    March 17th, 2017 at 4:24 PM

    This is what I worry about myself. My husband is currently on a transplant list, we have 3 children (12,9,7) I have quit working to take are of him, the household, well everything. My husband only receives disability payments so, of course there are always finances that are over our heads. This year will be my 40th birthday, and as I look over the past years I worry about “who am I, if not his wife?” Then I get angry, with myself, the world, him. Then anger turns directly into guilt.” How could you feel that way, shame.” Did you happen to notice if she was suffering from any other type of “caregiver burnout” before his passing?

  • Callie D.

    January 13th, 2017 at 8:08 AM

    The Aging Life Care Association® is proud to be included among this list of resources. Aging Life Care Professionals understand the critical role caregivers play. Thank you for helping share our resources with more people.

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