young adult female helping an older senior female walk

The Importance of Being a Medicare Family Caregiver

As a caregiver, you also need support.

Becoming a Medicare family caregiver can be a challenging experience. It impacts both new caregivers and those experienced in the role. We’re here to make the process a little easier. Here you’ll find tools and resources to help you care for your loved one. Read on to learn more.

Caregivers — a closer look

Caregiver support starts with recognizing that you are a Medicare family caregiver. That means you’ll spend a fair amount of your time helping out and caring for your loved one. Here’s a quick breakdown of an unpaid caregiver’s average time per month:

  • 13 days on tasks like shopping, food prep, housekeeping, laundry and transportation.
  • 6 days of feeding, dressing, grooming and hygiene.
  • 13 hours doing research for care, illness, and medical information.

Here are some additional numbers to consider:

  • 96% of caregivers help with activities like eating, bathing and dressing.
  • 66% of caregivers monitor care.
  • 63% of caregivers talk with doctors and medical experts.
  • 50% of caregivers act as support with government agencies and services.

The average duration of a caregiving role is about four years. 

*Source: Family Caregiver Alliance

Managing your loved one’s Medicare insurance

Besides household chores and rides to the doctor, you may need to help your loved one enroll or manage a Medicare plan. To do that, you’ll need to have the following pieces of information handy:

  • Social Security number if enrolling in Original Medicare.
  • Medicare number (you can find this on their red, white, and blue Medicare card).
  • Other insurance plans and policy numbers.
  • Contact information for doctors, specialists, nurses or pharmacists.
  • List of current prescription drugs and dosages.
  • Information on current health conditions, treatment and symptoms.
  • History of past health problems.
  • Emergency contacts, such as close friends, neighbors, clergy or housing manager.

Find the best plan for your loved one with our FREE Caregiver’s Checklist

Our FREE Caregiver’s Checklist simplifies Medicare. This way you can choose the best plan for your loved one. It provides useful to-do lists and tips for getting organized. It has everything you need to understand the benefits and your role as a Medicare family caregiver.

You can request your FREE Caregiver’s Checklist at Medicare Checklist.

Does Medicare pay for caregivers?

You may first ask yourself, does Medicare pay for caregivers? It’s really important to know because the cost of caring for a loved one can be high. It can he hard physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. There are several caregiver support programs that allow family members to get paid for providing care, including:

  • The Medicaid Self-Directed Care program lets qualified people manage their own health services. It also lets them hire family members as caregivers in some states. 
  • The Veteran-Directed Home and Community Based Services program offers veterans a flexible budget. This allows them to buy what they need, including hiring a family member or neighbor as a personal care aide.
  • Aid and Attendance benefits for veterans works with a Veterans Affairs (VA) pension. These benefits help cover the costs of a caregiver family member. Contact the VA pension management center in your area for rules and conditions.
  • Long-Term Care Insurance lets family members to be paid as caregivers. Some policies won’t pay family members who live with the person they’re caring for. Contact your family member’s insurance agent for more information. You can also ask the agent for a written confirmation of benefits.

Take time to care for yourself

We understand that it takes a lot of effort to do this job well. And it’s OK to get tired and frustrated once in a while. The stress from providing unpaid care can sometimes build and have a negative effect on caregiver’s health. This is called caregiver burnout, and like any illness there are symptoms.

What is caregiver burnout?

Caregiver burnout is the state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion. It can occur when a caregiver has reached their limit and does not have a healthy way to deal with stress. If you start showing some of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from caregiver burnout:

  • Loss of interest in things that the caregiver used to enjoy
  • Sudden emotional outbursts
  • Problems at work
  • Problems with a spouse
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sudden change in weight
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Increased isolation

If these symptoms sound familiar, it may be time to get a little extra help. You can find a list of caregiver support groups and resources at

Talk to Highmark’s Medicare experts today

Our Licensed Medicare Advisors can help with caregiver support, too. Schedule a one-on-one consultation at our Medicare Reservations page to learn more.

The importance of caregiving for a loved one

Caregiver support starts with recognizing that you are, in fact, a caregiver. We’re here to make the process a little easier so you can better care for your loved one.