Who Are Family Caregivers?
Do you assist an elderly neighbor, an aging parent or have a child with special needs? Caregiving can mean a wide range of services and obligations that require your time and energy without financial compensation.
The National Alliance for Caregiving says more than 22 million households provide care for a family member, friend or loved one. Caregivers provide every-thing from assisting with medications, managing bills and finances, providing emotional support, doing the grocery shopping and giving hands-on nursing care. If you help care for someone who needs assistance with daily activities be-cause of age, illness, disabilities, or other limitations, you are a caregiver.
The National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP; November 2009, reports that more than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, pro-vide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one. The same report indicates that 14% of family caregivers care for a child, who has special needs. That’s an estimated 16.8 million caregivers caring for children, less than 18 years old, who have special needs.
Caring for a loved one is one of the most rewarding, but hardest jobs to do. The most frequently reported unmet needs of caregivers are finding time for one’s self (35%), managing emotional and physical stress (29%), and balancing work and family responsibilities (29%).
Respite: Time Out for the Caregiver
Caring for a loved one can be an emotional roller-coaster for which you don’t always feel qualified or prepared. No one asked you to become a caregiver; somehow this became your role or the responsibility naturally became your job, but you must take some times for your-self. Respite is a break for the caregiver.
Unlike a regular job, the daily demands of caregiving are usually constant. The most important thing that you can do for your loved one is take care of your-self mentally and physically so that you can provide the best care and support possible.
When you notice signs of caregiver burn-out such as depression, trouble sleeping, lack of energy, and other personality changes, you need to step back and take some time for yourself to restore your energy. Enlist the help of a friend or family member or consider the help of a professional caregiver. A professional caregiver can provide respite care for a few days or can assist you on a weekly or monthly basis to allow you some time to tend to your own needs without sacrificing the needs of your loved one.
Although caring for a family member or friend can be a huge responsibility, you don’t need to feel alone or helpless. Take time for yourself, reach out for help and keep a positive attitude. This will help you and your loved one enjoy a better quality of life.