Ideas You Can Use Right Now to Help Family Caregivers in Your Florida Community

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In Florida and throughout the nation did you know that November is recognized as National Family Caregiver Month? This month gives Floridians and everyone in the nation an opportunity to recognize the contributions of caregivers both in our homes and in our community. Caregivers are often selfless family members who pour their time, energy, and love into caring for a loved one. These caregivers are assisting aging parents or other loved ones with declining health, physical limitations, or cognitive abilities. The physical and emotional demands of caregiving are well known, but how about the less-discussed, but equally critical, aspect that is the legal and financial planning.  Below you will find 5 ideas and discussions you can use right now to help the family caregivers in your Florida community.

  1. You need to recognize their contribution. Before diving into practical measures, start by appreciating the caregiver’s role. Acknowledge both their sacrifices and their dedication to helping a loved one and ask how you can help.  Encourage the caregiver to set aside time for self-care. Whether it’s a hobby, exercise, or simply a day off, regular breaks can help them avoid burnout. You can help by ensuring the person they are caring for has another caregiver during this crucial respite time.
  2. You need to be sure the Florida estate planning documents of the loved one being cared for are current. If a family caregiver is making financial decisions on behalf of an aging loved one, it is imperative to have updated Florida estate planning documents. This ensures they are legally permitted to make essential decisions. You need to be sure there is a Florida durable power of attorney. This document gives the caregiver the authority to act on the loved one’s behalf, especially concerning financial matters. Without it, they might face legal barriers when trying to help with bills, assets, or other financial affairs.  Regularly consult with a Florida estate planning and elder law attorney to ensure you are able to best support family caregivers and those they are caring for. 
  3. Your family caregiver needs a backup. It is crucial to not only have Florida estate planning in place but to also designate a backup person. This ensures that someone can step in if the primary caregiver is unavailable or can no longer make decisions. In addition, be thoughtful and make a plan for respite care. Every caregiver needs a break. Respite care provides short-term relief for primary caregivers, ensuring that they can rest and recharge. It might involve another family member taking over for a weekend or hiring professional services.
  4. Financial resources, stability, and support. Caregiving can be expensive. Ensure the caregiver is aware of financial resources, benefits, and aids available to them, which can reduce the financial burden. There may also need to be a conversation within the family of how to pay the caregiver for the care provided as they may have left a job to take on this important task within the family.  Always have open lines of communication. If you are supporting a caregiver, check in with them regularly. If you are a caregiver, do not be afraid to voice your needs and concerns. Working together to support the loved one who needs care is the best way to make sure everyone is supported.
  5. It is good to build a local community for caregivers. Many Florida communities offer support groups specifically for family caregivers, workshops and seminars on caregiving, Florida elder law, and Florida estate planning. Attending these can not only build a sense of community but provide caregivers with invaluable resources and knowledge.

Caregiving is undeniably challenging but appropriate planning and support can make the journey smoother. During National Family Caregiver Month, and throughout the year, everyone should commit to providing the best resources and support to those who care for our loved ones. By being sure caregivers have the right legal and financial framework in place is a step in the right direction.

We know this article may raise more questions than it answers. The Academy of Florida Elder Law Attorneys (AFELA) is the pre-eminent organization of Florida elder law attorneys providing advocacy, education and action on behalf of seniors and people with disabilities. We encourage you to contact one of our attorneys in your area using our Find a Lawyer website for assistance.