Supporting the Family Caregiver
According to the National Center on Caregiving, over 34 million Americans have provided unpaid care to a loved one age 50 or older in the last 12 months. These family caregivers generally assist their loved one with activities of daily living, like dressing, eating and bathing, and many also go above and beyond by performing various healthcare tasks, such as administering medications or injections. On average, a caregiver will spend upwards of 24 hours each week providing the care their aging loved one needs.
While caring for a loved one can be a rewarding and positive experience, caregiving can also present significant challenges to a family caregiver. There may come a time when caregivers need to recognize their own health needs and make decisions regarding the future of their loved one’s care.
Common Caregiver Duties and Challenges
Each caregiving situation is unique and complex, however, there are certain duties and challenges all family caregivers will face at one point or another. Some of these challenges include:
- Help with activities of daily living (ADLs). More than 96 percent of family caregivers assist with ADLs, which are basic needs like personal hygiene and dressing, as well as cooking and cleaning. It’s not uncommon for elderly loved ones to become reliant on family caregivers for assistance with everyday tasks, leading to caregivers spending more time on their loved ones’ needs than their own.
- Healthcare tasks. Among caregivers who provide complex chronic care, 46 percent perform medical and nursing tasks such as managing medications or even intravenous fluids and injections. Often, these are tasks family caregivers have no formal training to perform. Not only that, but caregivers also are required to deal with many of the financial and legal responsibilities of their loved one’s healthcare needs. This can lead to a significant amount of caregiver stress that can ultimately harm their own health.
- Assisting with mobility issues. Helping a loved one get in and out of bed or a chair is the most common task for a family caregiver. When chronic conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis make it difficult for the elderly to move about their home, family caregivers will help their loved ones move from place to place, including up and down the stairs. These types of tasks can be physically demanding on the family caregiver, often putting their own well-being at risk.
- Transportation. Since many elderly citizens no longer drive, 78 percent of family caregivers transport their loved ones to doctor appointments, the pharmacy, grocery store or social activities. This leads to time constraints for caregivers to complete their own errands or spend time with their families.
Seeking Caregiver Support and Resources
When caregivers begin putting so much effort into their caregiving duties that they begin to neglect their own well-being, their physical, mental and emotional health can suffer. The signs of caregiver stress and burnout should not be ignored, as they will not only harm the health of the caregiver, but make the care they provide less effective, too.
Seeking a caregiver support group can offer the resources, education and empathy a caregiver needs. Or, respite care services can provide a break in caregiving duties, allowing the caregiver time to run errands, visit friends, or even take a much-needed vacation.
Caregiver Support at Concordia
Every second and fourth Tuesday of the month, join Concordia for our Caregivers Support Meeting hosted by our caregiving expert, Mel Roberts. This event is open to the public, and offers caregiver resources and support to those who need it most. Please call (405) 720-7200 to RSVP or fill out our form today.