I am so glad this is now an Awareness topic. Caregiving is the hardest job you’ll ever have. It’s frustrating, heartbreaking, nerve-racking, and exhausting. The reward comes in very small bites until they pass on. Looking back at taking care of both of my grandparents before they died, I’m so glad I was there till the end. Those memories are the last ones I have and now I can look back at laugh at the small things.
A recent study says that 26.5% of all American adults today are family caregivers.
A 2012 report by the Alzheimer’s Association states that 15 million of those family caregivers are caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease or another dementia.
It is projected that nearly one in five United States citizens will be 65 years of age or older by the year 2030. By 2050 this older population is expected to double in size.
A survey by AARP in 2010 states that “29% of the U.S. adult population, or 65.7 million people, are caregivers, including 31% of all households. These caregivers provide an average of 20 hours of care per week.”
Avoiding Caregiver Burnout
Caregiver stress explodes when the caregiver can’t get much of a break – whether it is emotional or physical, a needed break is what makes it possible for the caregiver to function. The Be Well Bistro Caregiver’s Corner offers strategies to support the caregiver such as:
Tips for avoiding burnout are to know the signs and have a plan in place to combat the burnout. Some signs:
- Anger or annoyance at all kinds of things
- Nagging aches and pains
- Over eating or Loss of appetite
- Loss of interest in personal goals
- Loss of joy in doing things once loved
- Wanting to run away
- Enlist family members to pitch in
- Enlist a friend or a few friends
- Create a care group so friends, family, or neighbors can coordinate to give the caregiver some respite
- Think Outsourcing: Make a list of all the chores you don’t want to do. Find a way to bring in help. If your family or friends can’t or won’t help, maybe a local church group, community respite organization. Ask on Facebook if anyone in your community knows someone—or ask a local email group. Think outside the box.
- Find a local support group where you can meet people in person.
- Find a Psychotherapeutic intervention.
Be sure to look for local resources for help.
Being a caregiver changes the dynamic of the relationship and you can expect pushback. My gramps did not accept he was dying until two days before he died. He was a strong proud man and in the beginning, I had to tread lightly while taking over some of his daily tasks.
I have found caregiving the most frustrating and rewarding. I think of all the extra time we spent, time that would not have been spent if he were not dying. Our relationship changed, I became more of the parent and nag.