By Alice Iseminger
Caring for an elderly loved one can be very rewarding. But being a caregiver can also become a struggle to cope with emotional family relationships and often, financial hardships because of missed work due to care taking.
According to a survey by the Family Caregiver Alliance and AARP, “nearly 25% of working Americans provide care to an elderly friend or relative.” Look around you. That means one in four employees have care giving responsibilities that can negatively impact their work life.
Working caregivers often have to leave their jobs early, come in late, or take extra time off for their care taking responsibilities. The stress level of juggling work, family and care giving can cause guilt, anger, exhaustion, anxiety, and depression in the caregiver.
Women caregivers are especially hard hit as they continually juggle more of the demands of family and care taking as well as their careers.
The Family Caregiver Alliance National Center on Caregiving sites several eye-opening statistics from a 1999 study on women and care giving compiled by the MetLife Mature Market Institute and the National Center on Women and Aging. The study found that an astonishing number of women struggle with their responsibilities:
• 33% of working women decreased work hours
• 29% passed up a job promotion, training or assignment
• 22% took a leave of absence
• 20% switched from full-time to part-time employment
• 16% quit their jobs
Working care givers are not alone. As baby boomers age, more resources are becoming available. The first place to start is by creating your own list of who, what, when, where, how and why.
Who is available in the community to provide information and assistance?
For example, Lorain County Office on Aging, and Seniors Helping Seniors
What are the different levels of care needed? (Companionship, transportation, housekeeping, personal care, etc.?) For example, I would like someone to assist mom with her personal bathing and dressing.
When is care needed? For example, Three days a week I would like someone to visit with my loved one and make lunch.
Where is the best place for care? Most people prefer to stay in their own home. Being at home is where they feel safe and comfortable and it improves physical and mental well being.
How much can the family afford and how will services be covered? It can be a combination of private funds, insurance and other resources.
Why should I make a decision now? Don’t wait until there is an emergency to provide care for a loved one and support for the care giver.
You cannot control every situation. In all likelihood, caring for an older adult means that over time, more help will be needed, not less. As a care giver you can learn that you have options, and that you are not alone.
Seniors Helping Seniors (www.seniorshelpingseniors.com ) will provide support for your elderly loved one and the necessary respite care to the care giver. For free information call Janet at 440-935-3848 or email: CaringSeniors@yahoo.com.