Do You Know This Person?
April 19, 2012
If you are a Caucasian woman, aged 50 or older, possibly married, very likely working full or part-time—then there is a good chance that you are also (or will soon be) serving as a caregiver for an aging parent or relative. At least this is what a recent report released by the National Alliance for Caregiving, AARP, and MetLife indicates.
The entire report, entitled “Caregiving in the U.S., A Focused Look at Those Caring for Someone Aged 50 or Older” is 73 pages long, but you needn’t read the entire thing to get an insider’s peek at the state of caregiving today. And the report isn’t limited to caring for an aging relative; it includes statistics on those caring for special needs children, as well as family members of any age.
Some of the more interesting statistics listed in the report are:
* 40% of Caregivers are aged 50-64, and 26% are even younger (35–49).
* 63% of those receiving care are over the age of 75.
* 67% of Caregivers are women.
* 76% of Caregivers are Caucasian.
* 89% are caring for a relative (36% of the time it is the caregiver’s mother.)
* Over half of caregivers are employed while caregiving; and…
* Caregivers provide an average of 19 hours of caregiving per week (in addition to their regular employment.)
It is worthwhile to note that according to this study most of these caregivers are unpaid for the care they give, as they are caring for a family member and are doing it voluntarily—but a full 43% said that they felt they did not have a choice to take on the role.
Our office can’t prevent you from one day needing a caregiver (or one day having to serve as a caregiver) but we can help you plan for when that day may come. Thinking and planning ahead can keep you—and your loved ones—from ending up in a situation where you feel you have no choice.
Help for Alzheimer’s Patients AND Their Caregivers
September 25, 2010
Shakespeare said that old age is a return to childhood; without teeth, without voice… and in the case of Alzheimer’s patients, without memories. But if the elderly have to endure the drawbacks of childhood, shouldn’t they get some of the benefits too?
The Family Caregiver Alliance must have thought so too, because a few times a year they sponsor a weekend sleepover in Alamo, California called Camps for Caring. The program provides campers with an experience “of shared meals and stories, of activities creative and expressive, of exercise in the outdoors and of new friends and memories made over the weekend.” But the significance of the experience can go far beyond that.
According to a recent story about Camps for Caring on NPR Radio, although “campers typically don’t remember details of the retreat… the experience significantly lifts their mood.” In fact, “Post-camp surveys of family caregivers indicate that the ‘good feeling’ lingers, and it even can improve daily functioning.”
Beyond being a beneficial experience for the elderly attendees, Camps for Caring provides a much-needed break for overworked caregivers, who often attend to their elderly loved one around the clock, and can quickly find themselves dangerously close to the burnout breaking point.
Out of state residents may find it difficult to take advantage of the Camps for Caring program, but that doesn’t mean that caregivers or their elderly charges must leave themselves at the mercy of the effects of Alzheimer’s. In addition to information about Camps for Caring itself, the NPR article includes some tips from experts that can make dealing with Alzheimer’s easier on everyone. Or you can go to the Family Caregiver Alliance’s Family Care Navigator to find organizations and resources in your area.
Help For Caregivers: 10 Steps Toward Taking Care of Yourself
April 19, 2010
The number of people serving as caregivers has exploded in recent years, and according to PR Newswire the number of caregivers now tops 65 million people (29% of the population of the US.) This includes people providing care for elderly adults, special needs children, young adults with disabilities, and more. These caregivers are people who offer their time, energy and financial support to ensure that their loved one—parent, child, sibling, grandparent—lives a life of joy and comfort. It is admirable and often selfless work… and it can take its toll on the caregiver.
Many caregivers are working so hard to take care of everyone around them that they forget to take care of themselves. Their health will often suffer, their financial security goes untended, and their own social interactions fall by the wayside. All of this can quickly lead to one thing: Caregiver Burnout.
Although we don’t hear much about it, Caregiver Burnout is a very real phenomenon. Described as similar to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, Cargiver Burnout can cause depression, withdrawal from society, self-neglect, erratic behavior, and at its worst—suicidal tendencies.
But there are ways to combat the onset of Caregiver Burnout. HelpGuide.org provides an entire section on how to recognize and prevent Caregiver Burnout, including tips for family caregivers and a list of some of the warning signs of Caregiver burnout. And that’s not all, this article in PR Newswire offers 10 steps caregivers can take to ensure they take care of themselves financially.
If you are the caregiver in your family it is essential that you (and your fellow family members) recognize the difficulty of the work you do. Be aware of your limits, respect them, and don’t be afraid to put yourself first. Caring for yourself isn’t the selfish thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.
Avoid Caregiver Burnout
July 27, 2009
Many of our clients provide care for elderly loved ones; some even providing constant, around the clock care. Care giving is a demanding, overwhelming, and often grossly under-appreciated job. In addition to giving up their own time and interests, caregivers have to watch someone they love slowly regress and lose the ability to do even the most basic of tasks. Often, the senior being cared for eventually loses their ability to even recognize the people around them… including the person giving constant loving care. For all of these reasons, it’s very common for caregivers to experience depression and fatigue… caregiver burnout.
According to this article in the New York Times, depression and burnout does not have to be the plight of all caregivers, especially if you know the symptoms and how to combat them. And the good news is that just about all the preventative strategies listed in the article are easy and readily available… the hard part for caregivers is valuing their own time and mental health enough to take advantage of them.
There is a saying that hardships shared are halved, and joys shared are doubled; this is as true of care giving as it is for anything else. Many caregivers are reluctant to ask for help, but sharing the burden could save you from caregiver burnout. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
More information about caregiver support and resources can be found at the following websites: