TOLEDO, Ohio — AARP estimates about 1.4 million Ohioans are family caregivers. That means they're helping with things such as bathing, dressing, transportation and even paying for costly professional care.
As the baby boomers age, you may find yourself as a caregiver soon. AARP says it's never too early to start planning for the care they may need down the road. It has a guide you can download from its website, starting with having that conversation with your loved one about their needs and wishes.
"Then to identify who's going to be part of that team to prepare for that person, is another area that needs to be addressed. Then putting together a plan to do that. Find out who your resources are in the community," AARP volunteer, Daniel Hunt said.
A good place to start for that is The Area Office on Aging. It has a resource guide with everything from detecting Alzheimer's disease to home adaptive equipment to lawyers who specialize in elder care in northwest Ohio.
Services available through the Area Office On Aging go far beyond the resource guide. If you're a caregiver, you can simply call the office or submit an inquiry online to get started. From there, a social worker will come to meet with you and your loved one.
"Our primary focus is the family caregiver, so we'll go out, talk with them, do a thorough assessment, develop a care plan with them and help walk them through the process to support them," said Arcelia Armstrong, with the Area Office on Aging.
There are so many directions you can go in terms of caring for an aging loved one. There's nursing home care, in-home medical care and also those who help with daily-living activities. That's what Visiting Angels specializes in; bridging the gap between what families can do and what a skilled nursing service will do.
"So we're going to come in and help with bathing, dressing, grooming. We can help with grocery shopping, meal preparation, pretty much anything that can help that person stay independent in their home," said Shawna Lisowski, the Community Liaison for Visiting Angels.
According to a national study, family caregivers spend an average of nearly $7,000 each year on care for their loved one. That's nearly 20 percent of their income. Not to mention the stress that can come with caring for a loved one. The Area Office on Aging has a number of resources to help prevent caregiver burnout.
"We do in-home respite which consists of personal care assistance, homemaking-type tasks. We also do adult daycare. Sometimes family members may want their loved one to go to an adult day center, and we can also help out with institutional respite which we can help out with a short-term stay at a nursing facility," Armstrong said.
The agency also provides counseling services for caregivers, whether that's to help with their personal mental health or in-family disagreements. There are also support groups caregivers can join.
The Area Office on Aging Also offers a caregiving educational series with monthly meetings that touch on a variety of topics. The meetings are held the fourth Tuesday of the month from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Heatherdowns Branch Library.