“There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.” These words are perhaps the most profound truth about caregiving, and they were spoken by former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

Rosalynn understood caregiving because she cared for her father before he passed away when she was 12 years old. After he passed from leukemia, she helped her mother care for her three younger siblings. After leaving the White House, Rosalynn helped care for President Carter’s three siblings (who all passed away from cancer) and her own mother.

There was something else Rosalynn understood: not all caregivers realize they are caregivers. “People don’t want to admit that they are caregivers. They feel it is just their responsibility to care for a mother or a grandmother.”

The first step to receiving much-needed support lies in being able to self-identify as a caregiver. Once you are able to accept and articulate this, it opens the door to be able to ask for and receive help.

Rosalynn herself laughed when she admitted, “I didn’t realize I was a caregiver until I got involved in this work.”

How Do I Know If I Am a Caregiver?

Family Caregiver Alliance defines a “caregiver” as “a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks.” Anyone who is caring for a loved one with a disability, or who is elderly or chronically ill is a caregiver. It doesn’t have to be full time. Although, in many cases, caregiving is 24/7 work.

No matter full or part time, caregiving takes a toll. The burden of caregiving can greatly impact the following areas: financial, friendships and family life, physical and mental health, and a caregiver’s job or career.

Financial Impact of Caregiving

The financial impact of caregiving is mentioned first, because the financial hit can be the most devastating to all areas of life for the caregiver. Not only do caregivers often have to give up jobs or careers, or take reduced hours at work, but caregivers end up spending money for their loved one’s care as well.

In this article, we’ll look at one major way of alleviating financial stress in caregiving: becoming a paid caregiver for your loved one.

If I Get Paid for Caring For My Loved One, Doesn’t this Diminish What I’m Doing?

The question of payment for doing what one already considers a duty or display of love is a valid one. For instance, parents can sometimes feel uneasy about receiving payment to care for a disabled child. Spouses will often feel like receiving payment for showing love through care may not be right. The answer to this lies in the perspective. How about this for perspective: in many ways, receiving payment for caregiving elevates caregiving. It’s an acknowledgment of the work and the sacrifice you are performing. I remember words my real estate agent Brian Boals told me when I wanted to sell my house: “People pay for value.” And in caregiving, as with all things, people do pay for value.

AARP’s Public Policy Institute found in 2015 the value of home care services performed by informal caregivers was $470 billion in 2013. That $470 billion was actually larger than the entire national spending on paid home care and Medicaid spending combined for 2013. Interestingly enough, the institute titled that report “Valuing the Invaluable.”

As a caregiver, you are performing an invaluable service and it deserves to be valued.

Which Programs Pay for Family Members and Spouses to Become Caregivers

This leads us to the question: “How do I get paid for being a caregiver in Colorado?” It doesn’t have a simple single answer, but we’re going to look at a few home health service delivery options in Colorado that your loved one might qualify for.

In Home Support Services (IHSS)

Family, friends, and spouses may be able to be hired as a caregiver under Colorado’s IHSS delivery model for home health care. IHSS is available under certain Medicaid HCBS Waivers.

The Independence Center is a home health agency that supports IHSS and is actively hiring qualified spouses and loved ones as caregivers. For instance, the Molinar family is thriving since Kim Molinar was hired by The Independence Center as a caregiver for her husband. We’re very proud of them.

Click here to read more information about IHSS from The Independence Center.

Consumer Directed Attendant Support Services (CDASS)

Colorado’s Consumer Directed Attendant Support Services (CDASS) is another Participant Directed service delivery model similar to IHSS. The primary difference is participants on CDASS do not work with a home health agency.

Click here to go to Colorado.gov’s helpful information page about CDASS, including how to apply.

Veteran Directed Home and Community Based Services (VD-HCBS)

Marine veteran Cpl. Richard Stalder smiles with sunglasses on and looking at the camera while seated in his wheelchair outside on a sunny day with his archery kit. He is accompanied by his mother, who is standing to his left, with sunglasses on and looking at him.

Marine veteran Cpl. Richard Stalder, a native of Muenster, Texas, is a wounded warrior competing in archery, cycling and shooting during the 2014 Marine Corps Trials on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 4, 2014. Stalder’s mother, Claudia Stalder, became his primary caregiver following his diagnosis. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Lisette Leyva/Released)

Caregivers of veterans face unique challenges, and can benefit from VA benefits the veteran receives. Another Participant Directed service delivery model is the Veteran Directed Home and Community Based Services (VD-HCBS), which is a VA benefit.

If you care for a veteran who resides in the Pikes Peak region, including El Paso, Park, Elbert, Kiowa, Teller, Kit Carson, Cheyenne, or Lincoln counties, your loved one may be eligible for The Independence Center’s Veteran In Charge program.

Receive Caregiver Support through The Independence Center

Even if your loved one with a disability doesn’t qualify for any of the above programs, it’s still important for you as a caregiver to actively seek support for yourself. Without active support, the toll of caregiving can wreak havoc with your health and stability.

One avenue of support is respite care. Respite care is designed to give caregivers a break. Click here for a guide to respite care in Colorado.

Other types of support can be found in support groups, classes, and even online courses like the caregiver course specifically for caregivers of people with dementia provided by Catherine Hammond of Hammond Law Group in Colorado Springs. Hammond Law Group is known for helping families in Colorado prepare and act in case of a family member’s disability.

The Independence Center is here for you and can help you access caregiver support and resources. We can also help you navigate the Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS) system in the Pikes Peak region. Please call us at 719-471-8181.