November is National Family Caregivers Month. As a health insurer, one of the ways Highmark looks out for our seriously ill members is by providing them with a care manager to support their health care needs. But we know that many of our seriously ill members also have an extensive at-home support system in the form of caregivers. These caregivers provide help with everything from cooking to emotional support to medical paperwork.
Because of the demands placed on them, caregivers may naturally feel overwhelmed, frustrated, fearful and sad. During this National Family Caregivers Month, consider the following tips to help to reduce the physical and mental stress involved in caring for a loved one with a serious illness.
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- Build a support system. Ask family and friends for emotional and moral support, or try caregiver assistance programs such as the Alzheimer's Association, Eldercare Locator or your local Area Agency on Aging.
- Ask for help when you need it. No one person can do everything. Seeking help is good for you and the person you're caring for. Look for help from home health care, adult day care services or visiting nurse services.
- Take breaks each day. Everyone needs a little time off. Give yourself a chance to eat a healthy meal, get some exercise or take a short nap. See if a friend, family member or paid caregiver can come in, even if it's just for an hour or so a day.
- See your own doctors on a regular basis. You can't take care of someone else if you are not well yourself. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the stress of caregiving.
- Find the resources you need. Many organizations and health insurers provide free services to support caregivers. Highmark, for example, provides all of our Medicare Advantage plan members with a Health Partners program that provides comprehensive resources for individuals willing to act as a partner for a friend or loved one. To learn more or sign up for Highmark's Health Partners program, call the number on the back of your Highmark health insurance card.