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IKF Blog
Posted: Friday, October 12, 2018

Caregiver Assistance: Addressing Caregiver Stress

Caring for an aging family member is a labor of love. But study after study also shows the emotional, physical, and even financial stress that the caregiver incurs as a result.

Research conducted by MetLife Mature Market Institute* revealed that approximately 10 million adult children over the age of 50 (that's roughly a quarter of all Baby Boomers!) have taken on the role of caregiver for their aging parents, helping with a variety of tasks–everything from running errands and cooking to bathing and using the toilet. It's a lot to take on, especially for caregivers who may also be juggling a career and their own children, which is likely why caregivers over age 50 who work and provide care to a parent are more likely to have fair or poor health as compared to peers who do not provide elder care. 

A few other noteworthy stats from the study:

  • Adult daughters are more likely to provide help with daily care, and sons are more likely to provide monetary assistance.
  • The total estimated aggregate lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits of these adult-child caregivers is nearly $3 trillion.
    • For women, the total individual amount of lost income (wages, Social Security benefits, pension) due to leaving the labor force early and/or reducing hours of work because of caregiving responsibilities averages $324,044. For men, it averages $283,716.*

Yet despite all of these physical and financial drawbacks, the adult-child-as-caregiver trend continues to grow rapidly in the United States. The MetLife study showed that the number of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to an aging parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years.

Caring for the caregiver

It seems that caring for an aging parent is here to stay. So what can caregivers do to help alleviate some of the stress associated with the gig? Here are a few recommendations:

Prioritize your health

You can't take care of someone else if you yourself are not healthy. A lot of elements fall under this category, but the short list would include:

  • Get sufficient sleep, which also means laying off the caffeine.
  • Eat healthfully, either by preparing healthy meals at home or finding local restaurants or meal delivery services that can provide nutritious food.
  • Exercise, even if it just means taking 15 minutes to walk around the block once or twice a day.
  • Go to the doctor (and dentist) to ensure you stay on top of any medical issues that might arise.
  • Take time away from your caregiving duties, and don't feel guilty about it; everyone needs an occasional day off!

Get organized

There are only so many hours in your day, and caring for an elderly loved one can eat up a lot of time, so find an organization system that works for you and your family. Perhaps it is a large calendar where you and other family members denote appointments and events. Maybe it means prioritizing "extracurricular" activities and dropping a few that aren't as important. Or it could be that a "to-do" list–either on paper or an app on your smartphone–saves you time and headaches. Whatever you choose, find a system that works for you, and it will automatically reduce headaches!

Talk about it

The anxiety associated with caregiving is up there with the stress people experience with new babies, career changes, deaths, and other major life moments. Talking to someone about it to make a more educated choice will be a welcome release.

Consider your options

If you agreed to provide care for an aging parent but then realized you have bitten off more you can chew, it is good to understand all of your choices. A few to consider:

  • Assistive technologies can help seniors in a variety of ways and also give their families peace of mind if they are not physically with their loved one. There are more and more digital devices and computer programs that can do things like help keep track of when to take medications, convert e-books into larger type, monitor when doors open and close (even the refrigerator and microwave door), or get immediate help in an emergency situation.
  • A home care can come to your/your loved one's home for several hours a day to assist with their needs.
  • Similar to daycare for children, adult day care programs will supervise your loved one for four or five hours a day. It is important to note that if your loved one has long-term care insurance, it may cover some of this expense. We offer Ingleside Engaged, a day program at Ingleside at King Farm where we can provide different programs for your loved ones.
  • Assisted living communities provide seniors with help for daily living activities such as preparing meals, housekeeping, and personal care. While most assisted living communities have residents who are there for the long-term, some also offer short-term stays (also known as respite care). Ingleside communities are continuing care comminutes where we offer all levels of care including assisted living.

Put on your oxygen mask first

It's like they say on an airplane: be sure to put your own oxygen mask on before helping those around you. Caring for an aging parent or family member is stressful, but you have to be sure to take care of  yourself too. If you educate yourself about the various support options that are available to you and your family, you can improve quality of life for both you and the people you care for. It is important to note that you have options and it is a matter of what suite your needs.

For more information on Ingleside at King Farm’s social day program, Ingleside Engaged visit our website or call us at 240-205-7085.

 

The above article was written by Brad Breeding of myLifeSite and is legally licensed for use.

 


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