Are You A Caregiver?

Are you providing unpaid assistance to a spouse, relative, or friend who is ill, disabled, or needs help with basic activities of daily living? Do you help with rides to the doctor, shopping, meals, bill paying, bathing, grooming, dressing, walking or transferring to a wheelchair, housekeeping, managing medications, or arranging services to be provided by others? If you provide services like these, whether or not you live with the person you are helping, you are a caregiver.

E013988You are not alone. A study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found that 22.4 million households, or about one in four households in the U.S., is involved in providing care to someone fifty or over. More than half of all caregivers are employed full or part-time, and some are caring for children at the same time. Many of us will be caregivers several times during our lifetimes.

Caregiving provides opportunities to demonstrate love and commitment, to share special moments, to resolve relationships, and to live in integrity with spiritual and cultural beliefs. These meaningful experiences may be coupled with exhaustion, inadequate resources, and failure to take care of oneself while caregiving.

We have learned that the earlier help is accepted by a caregiver, the longer that person is able to continue caregiving, with less risk to the caregiver’s physical and mental health. If not freely offered, help may be requested from extended family, friends, neighbors, and place of worship. This is called informal support, and every caregiver needs this type of help. Assistance may also come from formal services for seniors and caregivers.

This Caregiver Handbook has been written to let you, a caregiver for someone sixty or over in Pinellas or Pasco County, Florida, know about resources that may provide you with knowledge, support, and relief. Among these resources are books, videos, Internet web sites, support groups, and formal services. Some of these are also available throughout Florida or nationwide for long-distance caregivers. Also included in this handbook are descriptions of various stages of caregiving and step-by-step suggestions for preparing for each stage so as to have the most positive experience possible. We hope you enjoy this Caregiver Handbook and find it useful.

If you would like to download and print a copy of the Caregiver Handbook, it is available on the Documents and Publications page of this website. Each section can be downloaded separately as an Adobe pdf file. There is also a link to free Adobe Reader software to enable you to access the publication. (If you have an older version of the software, you may need to upgrade in order to read the files.)