Throughout our lives, many of us are asked to care for another person – to become family caregivers. Perhaps you were called upon after a loved one’s illness slowly progressed to the point where he or she needed help at home. Maybe someone needed your help suddenly after a tragic accident. Your caregiving responsibilities may be short-term or indefinite. Whatever the circumstances, the road ahead on your caregiving journey may seem long and uncertain.
Please know you are not alone. Although you may feel isolated, together family caregivers are part of a large community. According to a 2009 survey, over 65 million people in the United States or 28.5% of the population, serve as unpaid caregivers to an adult family member, a child with special needs, or a friend.
If you look around, you might discover:
· Your coworker cares for an elderly parent at home.
· A family friend might be a caregiver to a spouse with a serious illness.
· Your neighbor is dealing with a family member with end of life issues.
Each caregiver situation is unique, yet all share universal experiences.
Most caregivers (86%) are related to the care recipient. 36% care for a parent. Nearly a third of households report that one person has served as an unpaid caregiver in the past year. Studies show that caregivers are all ages and come from all walks of life, although in recent years the age of both caregivers and care recipients have increased.
Maybe you never considered it caregiving; some of the tasks that caregivers help with include:
· Grocery Shopping
· Preparing meals
· Managing finances
· Helping with medications
· Arranging or supervising paid services
Half of caregivers also report assisting with the tasks associated with personal care, including:
· Getting in and out of bed and chairs
· Getting dressed
· Helping bathe or shower
· Getting to and from the shower
· Feeding the care recipient
· Dealing with incontinence and diapers
It is a myth that most of our nation’s elderly are cared for in nursing homes or health care institutions. Family members and friends primarily provide most long term care at home. 58% of care recipients 50 years of age or older live in their own home and 20% live with their caregiver. Only 11% live in a nursing home or assisted living facility.
Caregiving delivered via family and friends results in significant savings to the government, health care institutions, and agencies that would otherwise be responsible for delivering care. It is estimated that the care delivered by informal and family caregivers adds up to about $375 billion each year.