We talk about the joys of caregiving, but it can be emotionally and financially costly even for the most loving person.
In September, I fell and broke my right foot in two places. I'm mobile now, but for a few weeks I could not do much for myself. It was a torture that was waiting for help. It was a glimpse of what it might look like if I needed long-term care assistance when I could not do basic activities like eating, getting dressed and taking a bath.
This is the second in a two part series on caregiving. I first tried to find out why your loved one might not have been so receptive to your care. In this article, I would like to address the issues facing caregivers.
AARP conducted a study of caregivers to determine their expenses. The report estimated that caregivers spent an average of about $ 7,000 a year in 2016 on reimbursable care-related expenses. Some caregivers spent a lot more, often at the expense of their own financial well-being.
The report found that caregivers spend almost 20% of their income on helping the people in their care.
At the same time, the Associated Press-NORC Public Affairs Research Center also studied the cost of care. Currently, 40% of Americans have already provided long-term care to a family member or an older friend.
For the majority of caregivers whose income is less than $ 50,000, assisting the care of a family member creates a significant financial burden. The survey found that 25% had reduced their savings for retirement. Some borrowed to cover the cost of care.
A few years ago, AARP and The Ad Council released a video that every healthcare provider should watch. Search on YouTube for "Caregiving: PSA Ad Council – Silent Scream." Look at the 32-second version of the ad, which captures overwhelmed caregivers screaming silently. It's a recognition that caregivers want to help but can still be frustrated with work.
I tear every time I watch the video. It ends with a link to aarp.org/caregiving. On the website, you will find a link to a "Care Preparation Guide".
The guide, available in several languages, suggests five steps to improve care.
Talk it over. It is unclear how important it is to have frank conversations before a crisis leads to a care situation. And once you're there, be honest about your feelings.
At times during my recovery, I felt like a burden.
My eldest, who lives at home while she is finishing her graduate studies, has been of great help. But every time she helped me, I would excuse myself. I had to say "I'm sorry" a thousand times. Finally, my daughter asked me to just stop him. She said that it irritates me that I excuse myself so much. Still, I knew that she did not always want to be bothered. It could be seen on his face. Still, I had to learn that it was OK.
If you are a caregiver, clearly state your commitment to help even if you are exasperated or exhausted.
Form a team. Many caregivers commit themselves, which will lead to burnout. Just as those of us who need care should seek help, as a caregiver, you should also seek help. If you can not get members of your family, check the resources of the community. Call the support of your network of friends. Do not be a martyr.
Set up a plan. Taking care of someone is due in part to the inability to determine what you will need emotionally and financially. According to the AP-NORC survey, only 54% of caregivers have a plan to determine who would provide care if they could not do it themselves.
Tap the community resources. Find out about local services by visiting eldercare.gov. Check to see if your employee support program has a list of resources you can use.
Create a care plan for yourself. Nearly one-quarter of caregivers described their health as fair or poor and a similar proportion said the same thing about their mental or emotional health, according to findings from the AP-NORC Center. Nearly 6 in 10 caregivers who spend more than 10 hours a week providing care said it was difficult to find time for other activities in their lives. They sacrifice time with their spouses, their children and their friends. They reduce sleep, exercise and recreation.
All research shows that the important thing is when. You can not be at your best if you neglect your own care.