Caregivers, Coworkers, and Families
Over 50 million Americans care for a loved one with a chronic illness, disability or the frailties of old age. Many caregivers neglect their own needs and report the following health concerns: exhaustion, poor eating habits, failure to exercise, postponing or missing medical appointments, anxiety, stress, isolation, depression and frustration. Taking care of yourself is the only way you can effectively care for another.
Statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services state:
- One in four households is currently caring for people 50 years and older.
- Within the next ten years, an estimated 70 million baby boomers will be caring for spouses and/or parents.
- The bulk of caregivers in the U.S. range in age from 35-49.
- More than 40% of those caring for older adults are also raising children under age 18.
- Approximately 73% of those providing care to older family members and friends are female, 27% are male.
- The typical caregiver is a married woman in her mid-40’s who works full time.
- The average caregiver provides care for 18 hours per week; 1 out of 5 provides “constant care” or at least 40 hours of care per week.
- Within the next two decades, 1 in 3 individuals in the workplace will have the responsibilities of caring for at least one elderly person. Currently, 64% of all caregivers are working – 52% full-time; 12% part-time.
- About 1⁄2 of primary caregivers provide care with no outside assistance.
- Only an estimated 10%-20% of caregivers use formal services through public or private agencies.
- Among working caregivers, more than half have made at least some work-related changes to
- accommodate the demands of caregiving: modifying work schedules, going into work late, leaving work early, taking time off during the day, 26% had to take a leave of absence due to caregiving responsibilities, 30% had to give up work entirely, 15% took early retirement
- If the work of caregivers had to be replaced by paid home care staff, the estimated cost would be $45-$94 billion per year.
- Because caregiving is such an emotionally draining experience, caregivers experience depression at 3 times the rate of others in their own age group, and they are more likely to become physically ill themselves.
A Caregiver’s Bill of Rights
By Jo Home – Author of Caregiving: Helping an Aging Loved One
I have the right to:
- Take care of myself. This is not an act of selfishness. It will give me the ability to take better care of my loved one.
- Seek help from others even though my loved one may object. I recognize the limits of my own endurance and strength.
- Maintain facets of my own life that do not include the person I care for just as I would if he or she were healthy.
- Know that I do everything that I reasonably can for this person and I have the right to do some things just for myself.
- Get angry, be depressed, and express difficult feelings occasionally.
- Reject any attempt by my loved one (either conscious or unconscious) to manipulate me through guilt or anger.
- Receive consideration, affection, forgiveness, and acceptance for what I do for my loved one as I offer those attributes in return.
- Take pride in what I am accomplishing and to applaud the courage it has taken to meet the needs of my loved one.
- Protect my individuality and my right to make a life for myself that will sustain me in times when my loved one no longer needs my full-time help.
- Expect and demand that as new strides are made in finding resources to aid physically and mentally impaired persons in our country, similar strides will be made toward aiding and supporting caregivers.