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Informal Caregivers

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Caregivers assist family members, friends and neighbors with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks. It is a vital service that they provide for older adults and people with disabilities and it requires time, dedication and perseverance.

The level of care needed may and most likely will change over time. It is a journey of sorts and often a labor of love which may bring caregivers much joy but also undoubtedly many challenges both great and small.

It is important to recognize that the needs and concerns of both the care recipient and the caregiver must be addressed if the relationship is to remain healthy.

Knowledge, support, open dialogue and self-care will help the caregiving journey.

Services and Supports

There are formal services and supports that could potentially complement what you provide as a caregiver. Services such as home delivered meals and transportation might help with the range of assistance needed. Refer to the Services and Supports section of My Place CT to explore the options.

Respite Services

Respite from caregiving responsibilities is often necessary for caregivers to maximize wellbeing and avoid burnout before it hinders their ability to provide care.

Respite is most effective when used early and regularly. Temporary breaks can be arranged by utilizing adult day services, in-home care or short-term stays in a care facility. Visit the in-home section to learn more about these services and supports. Caregivers can use this time in any way they deem best to relax, rejuvenate and reconnect with others. Taking this time for self helps the wellbeing of the caregiver and in turn the person they assist moving forward.

National Family Caregiver Support Program: This program offers a range of services to support family caregivers such as short-term respite, home safety modifications and connecting caregivers with support groups.

Connecticut Statewide Respite Program: This program helps individuals with Alzheimer’s and other related disorders and their families with a variety of respite care services and supports.

Support Groups, Communities and Centers

Emotional support is often welcomed due to the stress and complex nature of caregiving. Talking to other caregivers and professionals can provide comfort and help generate new skills as you learn from and support each other.

The ways in which caregivers are able to connect with each other and with professionals has evolved to better meet their needs and preferences. Peer and professional support can be provided through various means such as:

Support Groups

  • Alzheimer’s Support Groups: The Alzheimer’s Association offers in-person support groups for caregivers, individuals living with Alzheimer's and others dealing with the disease. All support groups are facilitated by trained individuals. Many locations offer specialized groups for children, individuals with younger-onset and early-stage Alzheimer's, adult caregivers and others with specific needs. Visit their website to find a local support group.
  • Brain Injury Support Groups: Brain Injury Alliance of CT (BIAC) sponsors support groups giving individuals with brain injuries and their caregivers the opportunity to connect and share their stories. In addition, Project Genesis began hosting a Family & Caregiver Brain Injury Support Group that focuses specifically on the needs of family members and caregivers of an individual with a brain injury. While most groups are open and welcome to all individuals with brain injuries who wish to attend, several of BIACs Support Groups focus on individuals with a commonality. To find out more about BIACs support groups, email the Education & Outreach Manager, at rcarfi@biact.org or call 860-219-0291 x306.

Learn more: Visit 2-1-1 to find in-person support groups near you.

Message Boards / Online Communities

Increasingly, online communities are available to help caregivers connect with each other. There are many different types of groups ranging from those that are comprised of and facilitated by the person with a disability or illness and those for caregivers.

  • Caregiver-online: Sponsored by the Family Caregiver Alliance, this is a group for families, partners and other caregivers of adults with Alzheimer’s, stroke, brain injury and other chronic debilitating health conditions. The group offers a safe place to discuss the stresses, challenges and rewards of providing care for a loved one.
  • ALZConnected®: This is a free online community for everyone affected by Alzheimer's or another dementia, including: caregivers, people with the disease, family members, friends and individuals who have lost someone to Alzheimer’s.
  • Carepartners Support Group: This is an online community where caregivers support each other and share experiences regarding Multiple Sclerosis.

Note that this list of online communities is not an exhaustive list. Perform an Internet search if you don't find one that suits your particular needs.

Caregiver Centers

The Goldstone Caregiver Center at Danbury Hospital is available to those who are the primary source of providing care for a family member or friend. It offers services, programs and amenities to address the holistic health of the caregiver. Go here to learn more about the Goldstone Center.

Online Resources

The Internet allows informal caregivers access to numerous online websites and educational guides they can use as a resource.

Comprehensive Caregiving Guides

  • Prepare to Care Planning Guide: This comprehensive guide can help caregivers start the process of caring for a family member or friend. There are checklists and goal charts to help caregivers stay organized. Download the Prepare to Care Planning Guide.
  • A Practical Guide for Caregivers, National MS Society: This booklet offers tips and advice to caregivers of people with Multiple Sclerosis. Download the booklet.
  • The Conversation Project Starter Kit Beginning the conversation about end-of-life care can be difficult. The Conversation Starter Kit is a useful tool caregivers can use to start it. Download the free start kit here.

Caregiver Websites

Websites are rich in timely information and supports and often serve as a source of connectivity for caregivers. Here are a few of the leading informational sites for caregivers:

  • AARP: AARP contains a vast array of articles, tools and forums to assist caregivers.
  • Alzheimer's Association, Connecticut Chapter: The Alzheimer’s Association offers numerous resources for caregivers. Their website includes fact sheets, resource information, publications and news items related to Alzheimer’s disease. This site also provides links and contact information for regional chapters.
  • Caregiver Action Network: The Caregiver Action Network (CAN) site provides education, peer support and resources to caregivers. It also provides additional links to other sites. Caregivers will find recent articles, tips and information about CAN and its programs.
  • CareGiving.com: This site offers a discussion forum, blogs, information and webinars on caregiving.
  • Family Caregiver Alliance: The Family Caregiver Alliance provides resource and referral information to caregivers. The site features online support groups and provides information on upcoming tele-workshops for caregivers.
Legal Matters and Rights

Family and Medical Leave Act: When caregiving responsibilities become highly time consuming people may consider taking unpaid leave from work. Its important when contemplating such a decision that people understand their rights and both the Connecticut and federal law. Like employers in every state, Connecticut employers must comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave, with the right to reinstatement, for certain reasons. Employees who are covered by more than one of these laws are entitled to the rights set out in the most protective law.

Under both state and federal FMLA, employees can take leave to care for a family member who is diagnosed with a serious illness. Employees can take leave to care for a parent or parent-in-law, child or spouse. Visit the CT Department of Labor website to learn more about FMLA.

See the Legal section on My Place CT for other Legal Resources.

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