Millions of aging in place seniors rely upon unpaid, or “informal”, caregivers to provide them with at least some assistance for activities of daily living (ADLs). Usually, that informal caregiver is a spouse, family member, partner, neighbor, or close friend. And although serving as an informal caregiver is highly rewarding, it can also be physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. If you’re an independent senior who relies upon an informal caregiver, these are some things that they might want you to know.
Fast Facts About Informal Caregivers
Here are some fast facts about informal caregivers from the Family Caregiver Alliance:
- During an average year, approximately 43.5 million informal caregivers in the US provide unpaid care to an adult or child.
- Roughly 34 million of those caregivers provide care to someone aged 50 or above.
- Over 80% of all caregivers provide support to only one adult. 15% care for two adults and 3% look after 3 or more adults.
- The average duration of a caregiver’s role is 4 years.
- Nearly 16 million family caregivers care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
- Approximately 40 million caregivers provide care to adults with an illness or disability.
- Roughly 75% of all informal caregivers are female.
What Caregivers Think About
Most caregivers put on a strong, reassuring front when caring for loved ones. But behind your caregiver’s smiling face if you could read their mind it might reveal these thoughts:
“I’m really tired today.”
Most informal caregivers also hold down at least a part-time job and manage a household. Millions of caregivers are members of the Sandwich Generation, which describes an individual who is caring for an elderly parent while also raising their own children. Any way you slice it, that’s a lot to juggle during an average week.
“I need to find ways to decompress.”
Caregiver stress is a common problem for family caregivers and its signs include sleeping difficulties, not eating right, anxiety, depression, and a lack of interest in activities once enjoyed.
Thankfully, preventing caregiver stress is possible by exercising regularly, eating healthier foods, sleeping 7 to 8 hours per day, and taking a break before fatigue sets in. Caregivers can also benefit from speaking to a professional therapist or joining a caregiver support group.
“This feels like role reversal.”
It’s common for an adult child to find themselves in a role-reversal situation while assisting their elderly parent with ADLs like bathing, toileting, and eating. For many, it evokes fond childhood memories of the nurturing they received at the hands of their care recipient.
“I don’t like feeling this way.”
Because of the time commitment involved and the strain caregiving places on their jobs and personal relationships, many caregivers struggle with emotions like guilt, resentment, and even anger. After all, caregivers are human beings just like everyone else.
“I wish that I could do more.”
As their loved one’s end of life approaches most caregivers question their efforts and wish that they could do more. But death is an inevitable part of the circle of life that none of us can avoid. When you start to sense your caregiver’s frustration let them know how much you love them and appreciate their efforts.
“I need to take a break.”
Because of the rigors involved most caregivers eventually need to take a break so that they can recharge. When you notice the fatigue in your loved one’s eyes let them know it’s okay to take time off. Tell them to get some well-deserved rest.
Better yet, help them find a temporary replacement. Perhaps another family member, a trusted friend, or a professional respite caregiver from a licensed home care agency.
Compassionate Respite Caregivers Ready to Serve You
Caring for an aging loved one is a labor of love, but it can also be stressful and exhausting. When you need a break, give us a call. As a fully licensed home care agency one of our highly trained respite caregivers can step in for a while so your senior can continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be. While there, our compassionate aides can deliver reliable in-home services including personal care, companionship, meals, homemaking, transportation, and even medication reminders.
For your added convenience all our home care amenities can be individually combined into an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about us now, or to schedule a FREE in-home consultation for a senior in our service area today, please call or visit us online!