By Sarah Veronesi, MSW, LSW
Having a loved one with a serious illness who needs 24 hour caregiver support can feel very overwhelming.
Here are some things to consider:
1. Does your loved one have a 24 hour caregiver?
Yes: Great! See your hospice care team for ongoing support, and to discuss your plan.
As things change and evolve it’s okay to keep reassessing the plan and tweaking it to
adjust to the changes. Some of these changes can include the loss of a caregiver or
spending through the funds that have been paying for the caregiver plan.
If you are the caregiver, don’t forget to take breaks and practice self care. Talk about your experience to someone you trust. Know you are in an extraordinarily important position. You are doing what we humans are supposed to do for each other; care for one another. Thank you for your love and care.
No, I don’t have a 24 hour caregiver. No worries! Call your hospice social worker to discuss options and follow this guide.
2. What are your options?
First, assess your current resources.
•Money: do I have the funds to privately pay for a caregiver? For how long? In what capacity? A few hours a week or day? Can you afford a 24 hour caregiver 7 days per week?
•Contact your hospice social worker to discuss providers and the difference between hourly caregivers, live in caregivers, and other options outside of the home, e.g. nursing home placement.
Support system: who is in your support system? Are they aware of your need? What are some things you need help with? Are they able to provide the caregiver support you and your loved needs? Are you struggling with asking for help?
A support system is “a network of people who provide an individual with practical or emotional support”.
At times it can be difficult to ask for help. We are taught to be independent and self-sufficient or sometimes since everyone seems to be so busy we feel like we are bothering people. It’s important to ask for help to make our needs known. It’s best to ask for help when there isn’t an immediate need or crisis happening in real time. See your hospice social worker to gain more tips and support on asking for help.
After assessing your finances and support system... would you like to learn more about government funded services available for assistance with paying for caregivers in the home?
Talk to your hospice social worker about the services available and criteria to accessing those in home services.
If not, talk to your hospice social worker about other options, e.g. nursing home placement.
The sooner you anticipate these needs the more prepared you will feel. As you are making these plans make sure you are taking time to check in on how you’re feeling about all of this emotionally. The emotional piece to making these plans should never be diminished. A serious illness implies change and loss. Seek out your social worker, members of the hospice care team, and those in your support system for emotional support.
Sarah Veronesi, MSW, LSW is a Social Worker
for Hospice of the Calumet Area. The opinions are the writer's.