Caring for the Caregiver: A Real Dilemma Families Face in an Age of Living Longer
August 22, 2008
2005 government-financed study reported that more than 1 million children in our nation take care of sick or disabled parents or relatives. The AARP says that about 65 million people give care each year. These caregivers can be friends, family members, spouses, or neighbors. In some instances, more than one relative helps out in some families, but most caregivers do it alone.
These caregivers take on the responsibilities of shopping, feeding, dressing, medicating, and even changing adult diapers. Because older generations are now living longer, they often are unable to care for themselves independently and children or even older parents and family members are taking on the exhausting responsibility with demands sometimes more than a full-time job.
While caregivers often feel inadequately prepared for the job, overwhelmed, grief stricken, and scared, they often report that caregiving is a truly rewarding experience and an opportunity to give back to parents or family members. It is also an opportunity to heal old wounds and improve relationships.
However, caregiving is demanding and time-consuming. It may even raise the risk of stress-related disorders. The work of caregiving often goes well beyond what a person can do, and caregivers are encouraged to seek help. It is not a sign of weakness or failure but according to the National Family Caregivers Association “Asking for help is a sign of your love and caring, not of weakness and shame. It is much more than a one-person job. The following tips are drawn from professional, government, and charitable groups: the American Society on Aging, the Administration on Aging, the Family Caregiver Alliance, Children of Aging Parents, and the NFCA; they can be instrumental in helping the caregiver succeed.
Caregivers are encouraged to ask family and friends for help. Family conferences are essential to keeping less-engaged family members informed; these conferences are also a way to discuss suggestions and air disagreements. There are also networks…
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by: Julie A. Dialessi-Lafley, Esq.