Caregivers are an essential part of long-term care for older adults.

The most well-known form of a caregiver is a family member or close friend who takes on the care of a loved one when they are no longer able to complete important tasks on their own. Caregivers could also be someone whom the older adult may not know; they may be employed through an agency and come into the home, or work in the facility where the elder person may live. These are professionals who provide services that can range from companionship to full medical care.

As someone ages, it is crucial to have people around that can support them. More than ever before, seniors are wanting to stay in their homes and are able to if they utilize caregivers. Because of this development, and because many seniors are living in a facility that employs caregivers rather than move to a nursing facility, there has been a rise in the demand for caregivers.

Currently, there is a nationwide shortage of caregivers in all types of settings, and it is impacting communities at all levels. Shortages of professional caregivers, familial caregivers, and volunteer caregivers have caused many older adults to do without these services for long periods of time. The waiting period for caregiving services has risen, even if someone has been approved to start receiving care. Once services are started, there may also be times when the extent of services an elder may need exceeds the number of caregivers or hours of care they are granted.

Facilities and agencies are also experiencing shortages. Not only are people not able to find caregivers to come directly to the home, but people are also not able to find caregivers within facility settings.

For this reason, it is wise to start sooner rather than later to form a relationship with an agency and/or a caregiver(s). It is wonderful when an agency or caregiver is first hired, and it goes smoothly for all parties. That is not always how it goes. It may take trying several caregivers or agencies before you find one that is a good fit for the care receiver. Word of mouth can be an effective way to contact someone interested in being a caregiver. Let the people in your social circles know you have a need and see if anyone answers the call.

Caregivers are one of the most important and impactful resources an elder can have access to. If you or someone you know needs services, or may need them in the near future, start the process now!