With more individuals being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia’s, other memory related diseases, cancers or any other health conditions, many family members, friends and neighbors are becoming informal caregivers. These types of caregivers are unpaid and they may assist their loved one (for example spouse, parent, grand-parent or neighbor) complete activities of daily living such as personal care, meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders etc.
Below are the statistics about caregivers,
- Approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months. [National Alliance for Care giving and AARP. (2015. Care giving in the U.S.],
- About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months. [National Alliance for Care giving and AARP. (2015). Care giving in the U.S.]
- The majority of caregivers (82%) care for one other adult, while 15% care for 2 adults, and 3% for 3 or more adults. [National Alliance for Care giving and AARP. (2015). Care giving in the U.S.]
- Approximately 39.8 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18+) with a disability or illness or 16.6% of Americans. [Coughlin, J. (2010). Estimating the Impact of Care giving and Employment on Well-Being: Outcomes & Insights in Health Management.]
- About 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. [Alzheimer’s Association. (2015). 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.]
It is a privilege to be able to provide care for loved one. At the same time providing care for an extended period of time could become exhaustive and demanding on an individual. With little time for oneself, caregiver burnout could easily sneak in. It’s important to know and watch out for those signs.
- Caregiver exhaustion could be physical, emotional, mental or all.
- Weight loss or gain.
- Feeling tired or exhausted.
- Lack of energy.
- Not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much.
- Mood swings or depression.
- Neglecting one’s own needs and care.
- Feeling over whelmed by care giving responsibilities.
- Feeling of hopelessness or despair.
- Growing impatient or irritable with the loved one.
- Not feeling well.
- Worrying excessively.
- Everyday tasks or problems become difficult to deal with.
- Physical signs of stress.
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities.
Also caregivers are most likely to experience caregiver burnout if they had little or no choice in being a caregiver, are female, have financial difficulties or problems, live with the person they are caring for, spend most of their time care giving and/or limited circle or friends.
The good news is that caregiver burnout doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. One can easily cope with it by following these tips.
- Providing care for too many hours could easily lead to caregiver burnout. Instead if possible provide care for certain number of hours so you can have time for yourself.
- Asking for help is very important. Some people you may know might be willing to help, even for a short while.
- Join a support group for caregivers. Talk about your feelings here and others in that group would be able to understand you better since they are in the same situation themselves.
- As much as you’d love providing care for a loved one, understand that you may not be able to complete all tasks in a certain time. If that is making you feel over whelmed, politely refuse or say no.
- Involve other family members in care giving or find an adult day care.
- Consider hiring a private caregiver to give yourself a break.