Read the entire "Gray Area: Utah as it ages" series of reports here.
1. Don't be shy about asking for help from family, friends, neighbors, volunteers.
2. No one can read your mind. Be specific about what kind of help you need, "Can you watch Dad for two hours on Friday?"
3. Call your Area Agency on Aging (AAA). To locate yours, call 1-800-677-1116. Services might include Meals on Wheels, respite care, senior companions. They can also help you find related services like adult day care. Or call 211, the information referral line. You can pick up a free seniors resource guide at any Smith's pharmacy.
4. Join a support group and take a caregiver class. Your AAA can help you locate one. If you're the caregiver of someone with dementia, you can also contact the Alzheimer's Association of Utah, 1-800-272-3900 or visit www.alz.org/utah.
5. Let someone else be the "bad guy" if you suspect it's time for your loved one to quit driving. Contact the Division of Motor Vehicles or ask your doctor to write a letter to the Driver's License Division recommending a driver's test be administered.
6. Read one of the scores of helpful books on caregiving, including:
• "The Fearless Caregiver: How to Get the Best Care for Your Loved One and Still Have a Life of Your Own" (Barg)
• "The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers" (Jacobs)
• "Validation Breakthrough: Simple Techniques for Communicating with People with Alzheimer's-Type Dementia" (Feil)
• "Caregiving: the Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss and Renewal" (McLeod)
• "The 36-Hour Day" (Mace and Rabins).
7. There are hundreds of great Web sites with helpful information. Here are a few good starting points:
• University of Utah Center on Aging: aging.utah.edu includes Utah's new advanced directive forms
• Family Caregiver Support Network, www.caregiversupportnetwork.org
• Tips for coping with caregiver stress: seniorliving.about.com/od/healthnutrition/a/caregivertips.htm
• Free guide for families who are performing caregiver duties, courtesy of the American Association of Retired Persons, aarp.org/foundation