There are an estimated 44 million family caregivers looking after elderly and disabled individuals (Forbes). Of those, the vast majority are women, comprising about 80 percent of all home care providers (family and otherwise) in the country.
The average age of a caregiver is around 48. These women (and men) are not ‘spring chickens’ anymore. They are often dealing with a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety in their own lives, and that’s only going to be exacerbated when they begin devoting more and more time to this parent, grandparent, spouse, or other individual who they love.
How does caregiver stress start?
It’s usually quite subtle. An individual who lives in the same town or close enough that they volunteer to support this senior most likely only expected to devote an hour or two a week to the cause. As the months progress, though, more and more resources and time are required.
This leads to less time for relationships, work, exercise at the gym, friends, hobbies, and so on. It also often leads to less sleep. When you take all these factors together, it starts to ratchet up the stress in a person’s life.
When the family caregiver grows concerned about the safety of this aging senior, it will only exacerbate the problem.
What happens when caregiver stress continues to build?
In many cases, the relationship between that caregiver and the senior who relies on him or her takes a hit. They start to argue more. The time the caregiver stops by to visit with her mother, for example, becomes more about checking in, doing a few errands around the house, and then heading home.
The opportunity to sit down and have conversations, focus on the relationship, and improve quality of life for both is missed. Also, that family caregiver will likely suffer other relationship issues, with a spouse, siblings, friends, coworkers, and more.
Her job could become compromised as she gets in later each day, leaves earlier, takes more time to field phone calls from the senior, and so on. She might not get the exercise she had grown accustomed to and that will begin increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other serious ailments.
There is no reason to continue suffering like this and as November is National Family Caregivers Month, it’s a good time to realize people can still take care of their loved ones while leaning on home care agencies, and they will be far less stressed and the quality of care and support the senior gets could actually increase.
If you or an aging loved one are considering Caregiver Services in Philadelphia PA, please contact the caring staff at True Direct Home Health Care today.
Doc, as he is called by everyone - staff, patients and clients - first experienced home health care and hospice care while as a colleg student at King's College as he cared for his mother every day while she first battled COPD and then lung cancer. It was during this time that he came to understand that caring for a patient was more than just clinical expertise.
"Admittedly, my strongest attribute is my communication skills and the simple fact that I love to help people. Even the smallest thing you can do for someone really can mean so much to them long term. In fact, it could change them forever. That's what providing quality personal home health care should be all about."
In his spare time, he cooks for homeless shelters and children's music and arts events. He also is highly involved in his local youth sports soccer academy as a coach and Board member.
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