National Foster Care Month: Ten Tips for Family Caregivers

National Foster Care Month spotlights the thousands of adults and children in the U.S. foster care system – many of whom have disabilities. DODD encourages people to “Get to Know the Many Faces of Foster Care” – the theme for National Foster Care Month 2015. The Department supports the host home concept, which emphasizes the value and day-to-day support that a family home provides. Current Medicaid billing terminology used to describe such support is ‘Adult Foster Care,’ and we are working to transition that language to Ohio Shared Living, which better describes this residential service option.

DODD salutes Ohio’s foster families, and the many individual mentors who offer excellent care to individuals with and without disabilities in a community-based environment. Learn more about Ohio Shared Living in the Summer 2014 issue of Pipeline Quarterly, and read about related rules online, at Rules in Effect, 5123:2-9-33.

Ten Tips for Family Caregivers

Here are ten tips for family caregivers, assembled from conversations among family members at the DODD Family Advisory Council, and materials from various disability advocacy organizations:

  1. Choose to take charge of your life, and don’t let your family member’s illness or disability always take center stage.
  2. Remember to be good to yourself. You deserve some quality time, too.
  3. Watch for signs of depression, and don’t delay in getting professional help when you need it. Signs include ‘feeling down’ for more than a couple of weeks, or losing interest in favorite hobbies or activities.
  4. When people offer help, accept the offer and suggest specific things they can do to help you. Example: “Thank you! You can help me by being available on Friday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. so I can run some errands.”
  5. Educate yourself about your family member’s condition. New research is often available online, or at conferences. Information is empowering!
  6. Know the difference between caring and doing. Be open to technologies and ideas that can promote independence for people with developmental and other disabilities.
  7. Trust your instincts. Most of the time they will lead you in the right direction.
  8. Grieve for your losses, and then allow yourself to dream new dreams.
  9. Stand up for your rights as a caregiver and as a person.
  10. Seek support from other caregivers. There is great strength in knowing you are not alone.

Please share these tips with other caregivers, and let us know if you have others! Send an email with your thoughts to Kerry Francis at