According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, about 65.7 million US adults provided care to a family member with mental or physical disabilities during the past five years. That’s over 29% of all adults! Caregivers usually find themselves in situations where they suddenly have to provide care and assistance to someone in their family or friend circle. They pause their life activities to devote maximum time to the person they’re caring for
Most family caregivers take the role without monetary compensation and just out of love and care for their loved ones. Caregiving is undoubtedly a rewarding experience, but it is not free of challenges and hardships, including financial difficulties. Most individuals assume the role regardless of the difficulties.
Reasons to become a family caregiver
There are several reasons why someone might choose to become a primary caregiver for a family member. The primary reasons include the following:
Trusting yourself more than a stranger
When a caregiver is required, the individual needing care has to look far and wide to find “the right fit.” Many people search for a healthcare professional in their friends or family circles to become a family caregiver. But not everyone can find such a professional. Many family members feel that no one can provide the level of care to their loved ones that they can. Trusting a stranger seems more stressful than doing it all themselves. This is the most common reasons why people end up being a family caregiver.
Wanting to make sure that the patient feels loved
It is common for a patient to become irritable or depressed when they’re at a point in life where they need assistance for everything. Having to rely on a stranger often makes things worse because it makes them feel alone and helpless. No one wants to see their aged or ailing loved ones to feel lonely. To make sure they feel loved and cared for as they possibly can, many family members end up becoming caregivers themselves. This not only helps the patient but also strengthens the family bond overall.
Steps to become a paid family caregiver
One of the biggest challenges that come with being a family caregiver is the loss of income. Most people can’t afford to shorten their paid work hours to spend at home caring for their loved ones. Regardless, at some point during their caregiving journey, they have to sacrifice their financial independence to spend more time caring for a dependent loved one.
Most family caregivers land in debt while caring for their loved ones. This holds, especially, when a person quits their job to be a primary caregiver for the care recipient. Things become worse when the person receiving care is unable to pay for their living and health expenses, shifting the entire burden to the caregiver who’s lost their source of income.
The good news is that you can become a family caregiver and get paid for caring for a loved one. There are ways you can get paid for the service you provide. Exploring and availing one or more of these options can help reduce the financial challenges for you to provide better care to your loved one.
Let’s take a look at the different options for family caregivers to get financial compensation:
Medicaid recipients who qualify for the need to have healthcare assistance can choose their caregivers. Through their “consumer-directed” program, they can enlist any family member or friend who meets their state requirements. As the family caregiver, this allows you to take time off of work without having to bear a massive financial loss. Medicaid has various self-directed programs throughout all of the 50 US states.
Veterans who have enrolled in their local Veteran-Directed home and community-based service programs usually get an allowance to hire in-home caregivers. Additionally, if they’re eligible for “Aid and Attendance” benefits (when a veteran needs assistance to even get out of the bed), they’d have a separate budget to pay for a family caregiver. This keeps them out of a nursing home, and they can live around their families while still receiving the best care they possibly can.
Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers
This program is for veterans who were seriously injured during or after the 9/11 tragedy. Through this program, family caregivers can receive a monthly stipend, allowances for travel expenses, etc., along with access to healthcare benefits and mental health counseling.
Paid leaves for family caregivers
In New York State, employees can take a “paid family leave for family care.” The program allows you to take up to 10 weeks off work to look after a family member with an injury for severe health conditions.
Most family caregivers feel that just being there and assisting their loved ones is rewarding enough; however, it’s a significant change in life. Finding out what your options are to receive financial assistance yourself will ensure that you’re fully equipped with everything you need to provide the best care you possibly can.
For people who experience challenges or hardships during caregiving, it is good to connect with other family caregivers at Extendatouch’s caregiver help, an online support group for family caregivers. Besides providing emotional support, individuals in the group can help you explore more options for getting paid as a family caregiver.