Six Things to Know About Caregiving by Charles Watson
Posted on January 10, 2022
Sometimes, a person suddenly becomes a caregiver after a health crisis, like a stroke or cancer diagnosis. Caregiving often starts casually with errands like mowing the garden, taking out the trash, or preparing meals.
Giving or receiving care in the future: While you may not consider yourself a caregiver, gradually, it becomes evident that life has changed. You cannot go on a vacation with friends unless someone else can step into your caregiving role.
If caregiving is not something you've thought about, it's time to start. Whether it's giving care or needing it, several worldwide and social trends have changed the outlook for all of us. Increasing health care costs mean more people will require maintenance at home with a family member as they can't afford to pay for it.
According to a report from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, Caregiving in the U.S. 2020, today, 21.3% of U.S. grownups are caregivers. The growing number of caregivers now totals about 53 million adults, a 20% increase from 43.5 million caregivers in 2015.
Here are some truths about caregivers in the United States
- Most caregivers (about 90%) take care of a relative, usually a parent or spouse, while 10% care for a neighbor or friend
- Of the 60% of unpaid caregivers, women are much more likely to be caregivers than men.
- While most caregiving adults take care of just one person, nearly one in four (24%) takes care of two or more people.
- Many more young people are taking up caregiving duties. One-third of caregivers are 39 or younger, and 6% are from Generation Z aged 23 or younger.
- Caregiving is time-consuming. On an average, caregivers nowadays provide about 24 hours of care each week. And most of them (61%) have another job.
- Caregiving takes a toll on health. More Americans (23%) say Caregiving has made their health worse, up from 17 percent in 2015.
The global pandemic has been burdensome for people living in nursing homes and assisted care facilities. It is also expected to change how we care for people as they age or become ill.
About 40% of deaths in the United States from Covid-19 are linked to nursing homes, prompting prediction that Caregiving will continue to shift away from group settings and into the home.
Caregiving requires a considerable commitment of time and energy and needs practical advice to get organized and find resources to ease the burden.
Experienced caregivers also offer five personal strategies to guide you through challenging times:
- Include the patient in care decisions whenever possible.
- Arm yourself with info from caregiving organizations and support groups. Speak to other caregivers. Trust your instincts. Support groups will be your best resources for directions.
- Take care of yourself. Use adult daycare or in-home caregivers from time to time so you can take a break. Even five- and 10-minute intervals during the day can help. Try keeping a gratitude journal, downloading a meditation app, or doing a six-minute workout to refresh your mind and body. Accept offers to help from friends, even if it's just to get going to the gym. Exercising, eating well, and sleeping will make you a better caregiver for your loved one.
- Quilt feeling guilty. Guilt is common, but experienced caregivers say it's essential to practice self-compassion, know your limits, ask for help, and to keep reminding yourself that the work you're doing is challenging and vital. If you want to be a support for others, it si of utmost importance to take care of yourself first.