Caregiving Chat With Amy Goyer

Get advice on how to take care of yourself while caring for others

If you missed the live online event hosted by Amy Goyer, AARP Caregiving blogger and primary caregiver for her parents, you can find answers in this chat transcript to questions about caring for a loved one, managing the emotions of caregiving, how to find respite care and more.

Comment from Joan: Sometimes I just feel like I can't do it anymore. I get so discouraged about how my Dad is doing — it's two steps forward and one step back. How can I keep my spirits up?

Amy Goyer: I can empathize! Seems like just when I take care of one health issue for my parents, another one creeps up. It's so hard to see their health and cognitive abilities decline. The one thing you have control over is your attitude. Here's my post on keeping a positive can-do attitude. Focusing on what your Dad CAN do, and not going down the spiral of what he can no longer do, can help you feel better and will also affect how you interact with him. Every time you notice a change, think about what he can still do and put energy into being grateful for that. You can do it!

Comment from Bob: How much can I expect to pay a person to "fill in for me" for a few hours? I care for my wife 24/7 (Alzheimer's).

Amy Goyer: Bob, getting back-up care while you take a break is essential for caregiver survival. Glad you are planning for that! The cost can vary greatly — from as low as $10 per hour to as high as $75 per hour depending on the needs of your loved one and the training, credentials and skills of the professional caregiver.

Some states have respite programs that provide lower cost support — some even provide vouchers to pay family and friends to provide respite. Sometimes volunteers are available to provide short respite breaks as well. Here is an article about finding respite care.

Since your wife has Alzheimer's, I'd suggest you contact your local Alzheimer's Association chapter or your local Area Agency on Aging. Ask about respite programs, fees and volunteer-based options.

Good luck and DO give yourself a break. You can't care for a loved one if you are depleted mentally and physically. Even short breaks can restore your energy. Once you do get a respite break — here are my tips for making the positive effects last longer!

Comment from SusanB: I think simple things like a walk outdoors can help with one's spirits. It obviously doesn't change the situation but it can provide some distance and air to breathe a little easier.

Amy Goyer: Absolutely, SusanB! It's about changing your focus and taking a minute to recharge.

Comment from Pat: Do you have any practical suggestions for supporting a caregiver from far away? My best friend is caring for her two parents but I can't go there because of my family schedule. We talk on the phone but I wish I could do more!

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