How To Give Support To Family Caregivers

by Darcy Lewis

November 8, 2017

It’s no secret that being the caregiver for a loved one can be one of the most stressful family obligations you’ll encounter. And the reasons why are made very clear in the theme the National Caregiving Alliance has chosen for National Family Caregivers Month November 2017: “Caregiving Around the Clock.”

Caregivers’ duties frequently run 24/7, with little or no relief. Grueling schedules leave caregivers at high risk of burnout. All too often, they neglect their own needs while meeting the needs of others.

This year’s tip sheet offers ideas and tips for dealing with this challenge, including ways to create and maintain a medication checklist, as well as suggestions on how to successfully juggle caregiving with outside employment.

Online Information for Caregivers

Another source of support are health plans. Caregivers can turn to their health insurance providers for help, questions, and other resources. Health plan members can often find useful information about caregiving on their plans’ websites.

For example, Kaiser Permanente has gathered a variety of tips for caregivers and others caring for elderly loved ones. Humana also offers online resources, such as its quarterly newsletter for caregivers.

At-Home Services

In addition to online resources and information, many health insurance providers offer services for caregivers. Humana At Home, available for Medicare Advantage members, assigns a personal care manager to work one-on-one with the member and family by phone, video chat, or even home visits. A care manager can explain medical issues and bills, help manage medication, and coordinate medical appointments, both on an ongoing basis and for 30 days after hospitalizations. According to Humana member results surveys, Humana At Home members have 42 percent fewer hospitalizations and 56 percent fewer hospital readmissions than those who are not enrolled in the service.

Sometimes, caregivers need more hands-on help. Kaiser Permanente has partnered with an outside vendor for Medicare Advantage members to receive discounted caregiver or respite care services. Kaiser Medicare Advantage members can also receive discounts on specialty home-delivery meals or medical alert monitoring, both of which can make life easier for family caregivers.

Another example comes from Anthem in California, where it was selected to provide health care services for Medi-Cal Managed Care members in Los Angeles, Santa Clara, and Alameda Counties. These services include resources for caregivers, like community-based adult services, which delivers skilled nursing care, social services, and therapies to members. Caregivers may be interested in the caregiver training and support services in addition to personal care, meals, and transportation.

These are just a few of the resources available from health plans around the country. Be sure to contact your health plan to see what is available to you. Caregiving is an incredibly important role – you don’t need to do it all on your own.