Almost 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.
- Common caregiving problems. (n.d.). American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/pi/about/publications/caregivers/practice-settings/common-problems
- 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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