Did you know that many caregivers may not realize they’re caregivers? Generally, caregivers slip into this role without any formalized training or resources. In recognition of Pride Month, we’ve created this LGBTQIA+ caregiving guide as a resource to support caregivers who identify as LGBTQIA+, as well as those who are caring for a member of the LGBTQIA+ community.
If you or your loved one identifies as LGBTQIA+, Boston Senior Home Care is here to support you. We recognize that past or present experiences may lead many LGBTQIA+ older adults to feel distrustful of medical and social service providers. In fact, 78% of LGBTQIA+ older adults entering a long-term care system keep their sexual orientation or gender identity private. Currently, there are states in the U.S. passing laws to limit the rights of LGBTQIA+ individuals. Service providers and caregivers who are not part of the LGBTQIA+ community need to be mindful of the discrimination this community has faced and continues to face.
LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to become caregivers than heterosexual cisgender people. LGBTQIA+ older adults are twice as likely to be single and live alone, and four times less likely to have children. Peer-to-peer caregiving is common within this community.
Whatever your caregiving journey looks like, having a framework to help guide you will make the process more manageable. These five steps will help you navigate your role.
1. Have a Conversation
Before entering into a caregiving role, it’s a good idea to ask about being a part of your loved one’s caregiving team. Waiting to find out about your loved one’s preferences, wishes, or finances until a crisis occurs can lead to hastily-made decisions. But, talking about it ahead of time will make navigating your caregiving journey easier. Even if you’re already in the middle of caregiving, it’s not too late to start a conversation with your loved one about their wishes.
When you do have that conversation, it’s important to also discuss finances. LGBTQIA+ adults face disparities in economic wellbeing when compared with their heterosexual cisgender peers. While money can be a sensitive subject, it’s often at the center of many decisions you’ll make with your loved one about housing, healthcare, and other expenses.
2. Make a Plan
No matter where you are in your caregiving journey, it’s important to have a plan to stay focused on what’s best for your loved one and for you. If you are not your loved one’s legal spouse or next of kin, you will likely need to put legal documents in place to carry out parts of that plan.
When caring for an LGBTQIA+ loved one, it is important to realize that anti-LGBTQIA+ attitudes may exist within a family. A carefully drafted set of legal documents can be essential and an LGBTQIA+ affirming lawyer can be an invaluable resource. It is important to hash out these details before an emergency arises so that your loved one can voice and verify their wishes.
The most effective caregiving plans are made with the care recipient at the center of the discussion. The plan doesn’t have to be extensive or elaborate. Nobody can foresee every detail or scenario. However, the plan should include immediate needs as well as broader plans for the future.
3. Form a Team
Don’t try to do it alone. You will be more effective if you can find others who are willing to help you – whether they’re friends, neighbors, or professional service providers. While other family members are possible sources of support, think about colleagues, clubs, or others as possible resources too.
4. Care for Yourself
As a caregiver, it’s easy to ignore your own needs. Maintaining your health and wellbeing is essential when it comes to caring for others. It’s just as important to plan for self-care as it is to create a plan of care for others. Try to be honest with yourself, and understand your capacity for helping others in a caregiving role.
If you’re already in the middle of your caregiving journey, you may find comfort in knowing that other caregivers are experiencing the same ups and downs as you. Talking to them may give you ideas about strategies and resources available to ease your stress. Consider finding a local support group, like Boston Senior Home Care’s Caregiver Support Group. Online support groups can be a good way to find a community of caregivers who may be having similar experiences.
5. Find Formal Supports
More likely than not, challenges may arise during your caregiving experience that require additional support. We welcome you to reach out to us. Our caregiver advisors are skilled professionals who can connect you with the services and supports you need to care for your loved one. Ready to get in touch with a Boston Senior Home Care caregiver advisor?
If you are a caregiver in need of guidance or services, Boston Senior Home Care’s Caregiver Solution program is here to help. Contact us today at 617-292-6211.