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Helping family caregivers find the resources they deserve

After spending the holidays with your aging parent, you and your siblings realized your dad is no longer able to live independently. Conversations were had and decisions were made.

Suddenly, you find yourself as the temporary caregiver. Your own children have been out of the house for years and now you have the role of taking care of your father - something you're willing to do but for which you feeling entirely unprepared.

Fortunately, you are not alone. Washington State Department of Social and Health Services states that there are more than 800,000 Washington citizens who take care of an adult family member or friend. The good news is that because so many others have embarked on a similar journey, an abundance of support exists to help you. From webinars to support groups to books, there are ways to best prepare yourself for this noble challenge you've taken on.

Sifting through the plethora of information

A good place to start is with an Aging Life CareTM professional, also known as a geriatric care manager. Aging Life Care Professionals, generally social workers or RNs, have the expertise to guide families to the actions and decisions that ensure quality care and an optimal life for their loved ones. Their services include assessment and monitoring, planning and problem-solving, education and advocacy and family caregiver coaching. To find an Aging Life Care Professional in your area, go to www.aginglifecare.org.

The AARP provides a comprehensive list of resources for caregivers. While it's helpful to have resources at the ready, it can also be difficult wading through what's out there - figuring out what's applicable, helpful and legitimate. This is a pared-down list of helpful online resources that focus on family caregivers - the issues that people just like you face, questions they ask, and information they need. These sites can provide even more information - when and if you need it.

State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP)

SHIP can help you understand Medicare information. It can be especially useful if you aren't located in the same state as your parent.

The National Alliance for Caregiving

This organization offers a wide variety of information on their website as well as through conferences, webinars, etc. From guidance on how to prevent falls to advocacy and research, they offer wide-ranging, holistic resources.

The state of Washington also offers its own resources. From dealing with doctors to taking care of yourself, the Aging and Long-Term Support Administration has tips and assistance for you.

Is your dad a Veteran?

If your father is a Veteran, there are additional resources available to you.

Veterans Administration

The VA provides vast information on everything from managing medications to monthly phone calls with other family caregivers.

You will undoubtedly feel overwhelmed and not know where to begin. This list of resources is a great place to start.

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