Nearly everyone will be a caregiver at some point in life.
And nearly everyone will need a little help providing that care.
Being responsible for someone else can feel overwhelming, especially if the role is unexpected or interferes with job responsibilities. This is why Wisconsin offers family members and other informal caregivers access to programming and education that can make being a caregiver more manageable.
The first phone call that caregivers should make is to the local Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). Wisconsin’s ADRCs provide free and unbiased information and assistance to connect families with in-home care providers, respite services and other caregiver resources in the area. ADRC staff is trained to navigate through immediate crises and provide decision-making counseling so that caregivers can make informed decisions. ADRC staff can also refer families to professionals that provide legal advice and financial planning services, including information about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
Caregiver support programs are available in every community.
To learn which services are available where you live, find your local ADRC at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/adrc/index.htm
- The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) provides services and supports that help family caregivers and informal caregivers, such as a neighbor or friend, care for older adults at home. The NFCSP is available to any person providing care to an adult age 60+. The program prioritizes services to low-income families and older adults with dementia, but one does not have to be low-income or have dementia in order to participate.
The program offers:
- Information about available services
- Assistance with gaining access to services
- Individual counseling to deal with depression and stress
- Caregiver support groups
- Training on providing safe and proper in-home care
- Temporary respite services, such as help with bathing, home repairs, snow removal or emergency in-home care
- Supplemental services, such as help making minor home modifications or providing adaptive equipment that allows a person to remain living safely at home
- The Wisconsin Alzheimer's Family and Caregiver Support Program (AFSCP) is similar to the National Family Caregiver Support Program explained above, but only serves people with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease or dementia.
To be eligible for AFCSP, the care receiver must meet three criteria:
- Have a diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease or other dementia
- Reside in a community or home setting (not a facility)
- Have an income of $48,000 or less (person and spouse)
Typical goods and services that can be provided through the AFCSP include:
- Respite care or household services
- Emergency response and home safety/alarm systems
- Home safety modification
- Specialized clothing for people with dementia
- Activities or hobby supplies
- Legal expenses related to establishing guardianship
- Caregiver counseling services
- Caregiver education classes
- Emergency housing and energy assistance
For help connecting to a caregiver program specialist in your area, contact your local Aging and Disability Resource Center or call the toll-free Family Caregiver Helpline at 866-843-9810.
Dementia Care Specialists
Sixteen Wisconsin counties and three Wisconsin tribes now offer the services of a Dementia Care Specialist. Dementia Care Specialists provide cognitive/memory screening and offer programming designed specifically for people with dementia and their caregivers.
ADRCs with a Dementia Care Specialist offer evidence-based programming, which has been proven to improve caregivers' ability to provide safe care while relieving caregiver stress and increasing personal coping skills. Dementia Care Specialists offer two evidence-based programs:
- Memory Care Connections - Is a program for caregivers living with a family member with Alzheimer's disease or other related dementia.
A Memory Care Connections consultant will:
- Assess the family's situation and discuss concerns.
- Help the caregiver and whole family understand Alzheimer's disease, related dementias and how the disease may progress over time.
- Work with families to develop individualized plans that support the caregiver and person with dementia.
- Teach coping strategies and problem solving skills that will help reduce caregiver stress.
- Assist caregivers in connecting with community resources.
- Be just a phone call away.
- LEEPS (Language Enriched Exercise Plus Socialization Program) - A LEEPS volunteer is paired with a participant, and the volunteer performs simple language activities and basic exercises with the person affected with mild to moderate memory loss. These activities are provided in the participant's home and/or community. Time spent with the LEEPS volunteer is also a benefit to the caregiver because it provides temporary relief from caregiving responsibilities.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services partners with community organizations across the state to offer additional caregiver support services. Contact your local Aging and Disability Resource Center to learn if an organization in your area offers:
Powerful Tools for Caregivers - A six-week caregiver education class that teaches how to avoid injury when lifting a person, stress reduction techniques and the importance of self-care so that caregivers don't become sick or injured as a result of providing care to someone else. The class teaches skills applicable to all types of caregivers.
Savvy Caregivers - An education class that may be provided by local Aging Offices, ADRCs, health care organizations and Alzheimer's groups. Savvy Caregiver is similar to Powerful Tools for Caregivers, but the focus is on dementia caregiving.
Share the Care ™ - An informal system of care that helps organize family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, faith communities, social groups, volunteers and anyone else you can imagine, into a network of support for care recipients and their primary caregivers. Contact Joan Litwitz, Share The Care Coordinator, at the Greater Wisconsin Agency for Aging Resources for more information. Phone: 608-228-0713 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dementia-Friendly Employers Toolkit
Caregiver education and support is also available through local and nationwide organizations and groups that serve families coping with a new diagnosis or a chronic illness. Most condition-specific organizations, such as Alzheimer's Disease, cancer arthritis, etc., provide information and offer classes to support families and help prepare for the future.
Links to a few more common organizations are listed below.
Caregivers are encouraged to conduct a thorough search of associations, organizations and private foundations that offer support.
Alzheimer's Association - Wisconsin Chapter
Alzheimer’s and Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin
National Alliance for Caregiving
National Center on Caregiving
Wisconsin Parkinson’s Association
American Cancer Society
National Kidney Foundation
Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America
Huntington’s Disease Society of America