Picture of older man with his arm around an older woman

  Caregiver Services

Figuring out how to handle the care of a loved one can be overwhelming. Whether your role of caregiver is new or old, you may need new information to help you deal with ongoing changes.

The Family Caregiver Support Program provides elder care services and caregiver resources to caregivers of seniors, adult children with disabilities and grandchildren. The program is funded as a result of the National Family Caregiver Act created by the Administration on Aging. It was instituted with the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act by the 106th Congress. 

SeniorsPlus can provide caregivers with:

  • Information about resources and referral assistance
  • Individual counseling and training
  • Referrals to support groups and training workshops
  • Supplemental Services
To find resource information and supportive services:
  • Within Androscoggin County, Franklin County or Oxford County, call SeniorsPlus, the local Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-427-1241
  • Within Maine, call the Elders One line, a toll-free service, at 1-877-353-3771
  • In any state, call the National Eldercare Locator, a toll-free service funded by the Administration on Aging (AoA), at 800-677-1116
To plan for care:
  • Entry into a nursing home or assistance with home-based care services requires an assessment. Call Maximus for long-term care assessments at 1-833-525-5784. The assessment is free and will be completed in the home by a registered nurse. To find out more about home-based, long-term care services, click here and go to the Care Coordination website.
  • Speak with an attorney or financial planner. They can help you plan the financial and legal aspects of caregiving.
  • Look into local social work services. Hospitals, nursing homes, and area agencies on aging have social workers and discharge planners that can help you plan for care of a loved one.
  • Call SeniorsPlus for help looking into housing options such as assisted living, boarding homes, or nursing homes, we will search our statewide resource database and provide you with contact information.
To get personal support or further education, look for:
  • Caregiver support groups click here
  • Telephone Caregiver support group: For more information about joining, contact Amy Angelo at aangelo@alz.org
  • Savvy caregiver video click here
  • Caregiver Message Board and Blog click here (This is a wonderful resource!)
  • Caregiver Forum (The AgingCare.com online caregiver support group is a place where you can ask questions, give answers, exchange messages and get support from other family caregivers who understand exactly what you're going through.) click here
  • Caregiver organizations - see our links section
  • National organizations for specific diseases or illnesses - see our links section
  • Guidelines for Screening In-Home Personal Caregivers click here
  • In-Home Personal Caregiver agencies serving Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford county. click here
  • Administration on Aging website

Caregiver Tips

Family Caregiver Support Program
Caregivers, those of us who provide care in the home for an older, chronically ill or disabled family member or friend, find ourselves spending anywhere from a few to many hours a week at this unpaid task. Why do we provide care in their home or ours? Reasons vary. Perhaps it is out of love. Perhaps we want our loved one to remain in familiar surroundings. It may be out of a sense of obligation, or feeling that the cost of outside care is unavailable or too costly. It is probably a combination of reasons. Maybe we are caregivers because we fear that no one else can provide quality care. However we find ourselves in the role of caregiver, some circumstances are commonly shared.

Most family caregivers find themselves in a caregiving situation suddenly and unexpectedly. Caring for a spouse is the most common form of caregiving for an older person.
Most caregivers rely on experience, intuition and advice, doing the best we can without training. The role of caregiving is not easy. Support is available. Caregiving for someone can be satisfying, rewarding and frustrating. Caregivers faced with the many demands of providing care often feel the stress. This burden is the result of the emotional, physical, and financial demands required of caregivers in the normal activities of life. This caregiver stress comes with the life changes that arise when we take on the caregiving role. And how long does this caregiver stress last? It can continue indefinitely. It may endure as long as we take on the caregiver role. The good news is that there are things that we can do to cope with the situation.

There is much more information available that details ways caregivers can get support. Which ways beg to be tried? All of them. Coping with stress in a positive way means practicing good self care. Maintaining good health is important for caregivers in order to maintain the caregiving role for a continued time.

Signs of caregiver stress

As a caregiver, you may be so focused on your loved one that you don't realize that your own health and well-being are suffering. Watch for these signs of caregiver stress:

  • Feeling tired most of the time
  • Feeling overwhelmed and irritable
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Gaining or losing a lot of weight
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy

Too much stress, especially over a long time, can harm your health. As a caregiver, you're more likely to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In addition, you may not get enough physical activity or eat a balanced diet, which only increases your risk of medical problems, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Strategies for dealing with caregiver stress

The emotional and physical demands involved with caregiving can strain even the most resilient person. That's why it's so important to take advantage of available help and support. These strategies have helped others manage their caregiver stress:

  • Accept help. Be prepared with a list of ways that others can help you, and let the helper choose what he or she would like to do. For instance, one person might be willing to take the person you care for on a walk a couple of times a week. Someone else might offer to pick up groceries or even to cook for you.
  • Focus on what you are able to provide. Don't give in to guilt. Feeling guilty is normal, but understand that no one is a "perfect" caregiver. You're doing the best you can at any given time. Your house does not have to be perfect, and no one will care if you eat leftovers three days in a row. And you don't have to feel guilty about asking for help.
  • Get connected. Organizations such as the Red Cross and the Alzheimer's Association offer classes on caregiving, and local hospitals may have classes specifically about the disease your loved one is facing.
  • Join a support group. A support group can be a great source for encouragement and advice from others in similar situations. It can also be a good place to make new friends.
  • Seek social support. Make an effort to stay emotionally connected with family and friends. Set aside time each week for socializing, even if it's just a walk with a friend. Whenever possible, make plans that get you out of the house. Many have identified that maintaining a strong support system is the key to managing the stress associated with caregiving.
  • Set personal health goals. For example, set a goal to find time to be physically active on most days of the week, or set a goal for getting a good night's sleep. It's also crucial to eat a healthy diet.
  • See your doctor. Get recommended immunizations and screenings. Make sure to tell your doctor that you're a caregiver. Don't hesitate to mention any concerns or symptoms you have.

If you would like to learn more about any of the information you have read here, contact SeniorsPlus at 1-800-427-1241 and ask to speak with the Caregiver Specialist.