What Does It Mean to Be a Family Caregiver?

As the Baby Boomer generation reaches their senior years, the number of senior citizens in the United States is skyrocketing. According to the Population Reference Bureau, there are currently around 46 million people aged 65 and older in the U.S. That number is projected to double by the year 2060. With more senior citizens also comes the need for more people to care for them when they can no longer manage on their own. Many older Americans are cared for by family members who are often referred to as family caregivers.

Who Are Family Caregivers?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that there are currently over 34 million people in the United States who are providing uncompensated care to adults aged 18 and older. The CDC defines family caregivers as “unpaid persons such as family members, friends, and neighbors of all ages who are providing care for a relative.” More women than men are caregivers and many provide 20 or more hours per week of care.

What Do Family Caregivers Do?

Family caregivers perform a wide variety of tasks and take on many different roles depending on the needs of their loved one. Some typical things that family caregivers do for the people in their care are:

  • Grocery shopping.
  • Cooking.
  • Cleaning.
  • Laundry.
  • Assisting with dressing.
  • Helping with personal care, like bathing.
  • Assisting with medications.
  • Transferring a person into a chair or into bed.
  • Helping with some medical procedures like feeding tubes and physical therapy.
  • Making medical appointments.
  • Driving the person to appointments and activities.
  • Coordinating medical care.
  • Handling emergency situations.

Often family caregivers take on caring for a person gradually over time. They may begin by taking on a small duty, like grocery shopping, for an elderly parent and then find their duties increasing as the person ages and becomes less able to care for themselves. Other times the need for care happens suddenly due to an illness or injury. Family caregivers may provide part-time or full-time care. Some of them even live with the person they are caring for.

Where Can Family Caregivers Get Help?

Family caregiving can be stressful and time consuming. While those who act as family caregivers often do so out of love and many even enjoy caring for an elderly loved one, sometimes a family caregiver can find themselves feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and even depressed. It can be beneficial for family caregivers to develop a support system before the responsibility becomes overwhelming. Family caregivers can get help by:

  • Hiring a professional in-home caregiver through a home care agency.
  • Attending caregiver support groups.
  • Asking family members and friends to spend some time with the elderly person so that they can take a break.
  • Contacting the local senior center to see what types of assistance may be available in the community.

Family caregivers are an extremely important part of their loved ones’ lives and provide valuable support. The journey of a family caregiver can be difficult, but it is also rewarding. If you’ve just begun your journey, remember to reach out for help when you need it. Continuing to take care of your own health and relationships will help you to be a better caregiver to your elderly loved one. A home care provider can offer invaluable respite to a family caregiver, in addition to the beneficial companionship and assistance they provide for seniors.

Sources
https://www.caregiver.org/caregiving
http://www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/cyf/caregiving-facts.aspx
https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/facts.htm
http://www.prb.org/Publications/Media-Guides/2016/aging-unitedstates-fact-sheet.aspx

When you are in need of care for a senior loved one, consider home care provided by Golden Heart Senior Care. We have offices nationwide. For more information, call us today at (800) 601-2792.

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