With so many people living longer today, most of us are eventually going to be taking care of an aging relative, whether it’s a parent, spouse or other family member — if we aren’t doing so already.

Some people don’t realize that they already are caregivers.  Here’s a checklist of things that caregivers generally do:

  • Make regular phone calls to check in on a loved one;
  • Drive a family member, friend or neighbor to doctor appointments;
  • Prepare meals for someone;
  • Assist with personal affairs such as paying someone’s bills;
  • Help with chores like grocery shopping or cleaning;
  • Help someone make decisions regarding health care;
  • Provide hands-on care such as bathing or assistance with eating.

No matter how good our relationships with our loved ones may be, the responsibilities and stresses of caregiving can feel overwhelming, and they’re intensified when we feel we have to handle things alone.

Caregivers may find themselves concerned about a number of issues including:

  • Safety: Will Dad fall? What if Mom can’t climb the stairs in her house any longer? Will she forget to turn off the tea kettle or oven?  Should my spouse still be driving?
  • Medication: Who will reliably fill prescriptions? Is Dad managing his medications and taking them on time?
  • Navigating the Health Care System: Who can keep track of so many doctors’ appointments, forms to fill out, and differing advice? How do you get to the person you need to speak to?
  • Isolation: If Mom can’t drive any longer, how will she get to important appointments and see her friends?
  • Finding Resources: What alternative housing arrangements are available? When is it time to move to a facility that provides support services? How to find a reliable companion or home health care service?
  • End of Life Issues: Do we know if Dad has a will? Life insurance? What about bank account and safe deposit box information?

Fortunately, there are many resources available to help you meet your loved one’s needs and to support you as a caregiver like respite care, transportation assistance, friendly visitors or elder care managers.

On May 31, Jewish Community Services will present a panel presentation, “Strategies for Navigating Care of your Loved One.” Panelists will provide information about elder care services, preparing for financial, medical and end of life issues, the intersection of medical and human service needs, and the benefits of support groups.

This special program is part of the JCS’s 10th annual meeting. It will be held from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Beth Tfiloh Congregation, 3300 Old Court Road in Pikesville.

We hope you will join us. For information, visit jcsbalt.org/annualmeeting or call 410-466-9200.