November is National Family Caregivers Month
Caring Together Santa Barbara County (CTSBC) and its partner organizations are observing National Family Caregivers Month during the month of November. This month we recognize the people who lovingly care for a loved one, friend, or neighbor.
“Family caregivers provide love and support to their older parents, spouses and other loved ones. They are the unsung heroes who are managing medications, preparing meals, helping with bathing and dressing, and assisting with other daily activities. It is one of the most important jobs they will ever have, but it can be one of the most difficult,” says De Rosenberry, Senior Services Program Director at Family Service Agency.
Fortunately, our community has a wealth of resources to support family caregivers. Many of these resources can be found through the CTSBC network or by calling the Area Agency on Aging at (805) 925-9554. Bilingual and bicultural resources are available from the Santa Barbara County Promotores Network.
Education and Training
Caring for older adults, especially those with complex medical conditions, can be daunting for family members who may not have the expertise. Workshops and access to relevant information can empower caregivers to provide better care and reduce their stress and anxiety. Alzheimer’s Association of the Central Coast and Dignity Health in Santa Maria provide regularly scheduled trainings as well as short-term supportive services.
Caring for seniors can be emotionally taxing. Caregivers often experience feelings of anger, guilt, stress, and isolation. Support groups and counseling services can help normalize these feelings and can help caregivers learn tools to cope with stress and isolation. They provide an outlet for caregivers to share their experiences and emotions, so caregivers know they are not alone in their caregiving journeys. Counseling and support group services can be accessed by reaching out to Alzheimer’s Association of the Central Coast, Coast Caregiver Resource Center, Family Service Agency, and Parkinson’s Association.
Taking on the responsibility of caregiving can be exhausting. To support family caregivers, respite care services can offer them a much-needed break. These services provide temporary assistance, allowing caregivers to rest and recharge while knowing that their senior loved ones are in capable hands.
Coast Caregiver Resource Center can help caregivers connect with respite care, or caregivers can reach out to one of the many in-home care organizations available in our community.
Financial and Medical Assistance
Providing financial assistance through government programs or private organizations can help ease the burden on family caregivers. In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) provides in-home assistance to eligible aged, blind, and disabled individuals as an alternative to out-of-home care and enables recipients to remain safely in their own homes. Children & Family Resource Services/Health Linkages also includes a program dedicated to Medi-Cal enrollment and renewals, a key resource for health care among those challenged by low income and disabilities. The Cecelia Fund helps low-income residents of Santa Barbara County pay for critical medical or dental bills. Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) provides free and objective information and counseling about Medicare.
Many seniors prefer to age in place, remaining in the comfort of their own homes. To support family caregivers in this endeavor, home modifications can be essential. These modifications might include installing handrails, wheelchair ramps, or even making the home more accessible for seniors with mobility issues. Making the home safer and more senior-friendly can alleviate the stress of caregivers worrying about their loved one’s safety. CommUnify’s Senior Safe At Home program provides free repairs and referral services to assist our older adults with continued quality of life within their homes.
Senior care often involves complex legal and financial issues, including wills, trusts, and long-term care planning. To support family caregivers, legal planning assistance can help them navigate these complex matters, ensuring that seniors’ wishes are met and their financial well-being is protected. A licensed fiduciary can help with wills and trusts. Hospice of Santa Barbara offers free classes to help with advance care directive planning.
Family caregivers are the unsung heroes who provide invaluable care to seniors, allowing them to age with dignity and grace. Supporting family caregivers is not just a moral duty but a societal responsibility. Through education, respite care, financial assistance, emotional support, and other resources, family caregivers can continue to provide the best possible care for their senior loved ones and feel supported at the same time. It is through these collective efforts that we can create a society that values and supports the caregivers who make a profound difference in the lives of the loved ones for whom they are caring.
Caring Together Santa Barbara County supports community members in their caregiving journey. We are a network of over 40 organizations and individuals who link family and paid caregivers with supportive services. We work to create healthy communities through caregiver support, education, and advocacy. Visit CaringTogetherSBC.org for list of participating organizations, articles, and links to resources.