Being a caregiver is tough.
It’s the sort of tough that only people who are or have been a caregiver understand.
It’s the oftentimes back-breaking, sometimes soul-crushing tough that makes you depressed, sore, sad, angry or ill.
It’s the confusing, heartbreaking tough of watching your loved one deteriorate and being helpless to stop it.
Here are just a few stats:
–17% of caregivers believe their health has deteriorated due to their role as a caregiver.
–40-70% of caregivers show signs of depression.
–38% of caregivers view their job as “highly stressful.”
–70% of caregivers suffer at their non-caregiving job due to their caretaker role.
–69% of caregivers have to take unpaid leave or shorten their hours at their non-caregiving job.
–39% of caregivers quit their non-caregiving jobs in order to become a full-time caregiver.
As you can see, the numbers are staggering, and they’re even more dire for female caregivers, who make up the majority of caregivers (65%).
Single women taking care of elderly parents are “2.5 times more likely than non-caregivers to live in poverty in old age.” In addition, female caregivers report being more stressed than male caregivers, and spend “as much as 50% more time providing care than males.”
As elderly individuals are choosing to age at home and are unable to afford in-home care (a home health aide costs around $50,000 a year), this is putting millions of Americans—particularly women—in the position of becoming part of full-time caregivers. This difficult job often comes at the cost of physical health, mental health and income.
Fortunately, there are services available for caregivers and the loved ones they care for.
- Resources: Knowing where to turn to for help can be confusing and stressful. Here are some places to start: Next Step in Care is a guide to help caregivers and healthcare providers work together; Caring.com is a one-stop shop for information on caregiving with the guidance of a Family Advisor; and The National Alliance for Caregiving offers a great list of helpful resources for caregivers.
- Support Groups: Caregivers often spend 24/7 attending to their loved one, which can lead to isolation and depression. Joining a support group can help reduce loneliness and improve overall well-being. Caregiver.org offers a list of support groups by state, and your local Agency on Aging office should be able to connect you to local support groups. You can find your local Agency on Aging at Eldercare.gov.
- Assistance: You don’t have to take on caregiving all by yourself. There are services available to help alleviate some of the hardship. It’s oftentimes possible for family caregivers to receive financial assistance through Medicaid. You can learn more by contacting your local Medicaid office. ARCH National Respite Network provides numerous ways to locate respite relief in your area. And again, contacting your local Agency on Aging will provide you with a wealth of information. They’re there to help you and your family.
Though resources for caregivers are becoming more common, we as a society, particularly on the policy level, need to continue finding innovative ways to support caregivers. They are one of the most underappreciated and unacknowledged demographics in America.
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