The Risk of Caregiving

Posted on August 27, 2013 by ecrBayArea in Caregiver Education

Almost 50 million Americans provide unpaid assistance and support the elderly and adults with disabilities. What is a Caregiver exactly? The Department of Health and Human Services defines it as “a person, either paid or voluntary, who helps an older person with the activities of daily living, health care, financial matters, guidance, companionship and social interaction. A caregiver can provide more than one aspect of care. Most often the term refers to a family member or friend who aids the older person.”

Several organizations, including the National Alliance of Caregiving and Alzheimer’s Association, show that most caregivers are ill-prepared for their role and provide care with little or no support, yet more than one-third of caregivers continue to provide intense care to others while suffering from poor health themselves. To make matters worse, caregivers are more likely to lack health insurance coverage due to time out of the workforce.

It’s estimated that women make up about 65% of all caregivers and in today’s world more women work outside of the house than ever before. Research shows that female caregivers fare worse than their male counterparts, reporting higher levels of depressive and anxiety symptoms and lower levels of subjective well-being, life satisfaction, and physical health than male caregivers.

We have all heard this announcement on an airplane…“In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Only when we first help ourselves can we effectively help others. Caring for yourself is one of the most important, and one of the most often forgotten things you can do as a caregiver. When your needs are taken care of, the person you care for will benefit, too. Caregivers are often so concerned with caring for their relative’s needs that they lose sight of their own well-being.

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