Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Too Sick to Be a Caregiver So What Are My Options?

Mar. 3, 2015

Dear Cathy:

My parents died when I was young so my sister and I, both in our 40s, were raised by our grandmother.  I am single with no children so I quit my job 2 years ago to become the caregiver for my grandmother as her health deteriorated.  Since my health has also deteriorated, I am thinking of asking my sister, who recently became a widow, to take over the role of caregiver for my grandmother so I can take better care of myself.  What other options do we have?  Caregiver in Michigan

Dear Caregiver:

Caregiving in itself is full of hard realities and isn’t easy on any level.  Just remember up front that not everyone can become a caregiver.  The National Family Caregivers Association states that there are more than 25 million family caregivers in America. 

Three fourths of all caregivers for persons over the age of 50 are women. Approximately 15% of all women between the ages of 36 and 64 are caregivers, with the value of their services provided for free estimated to be worth $196 billion a year.

Sixty-one percent of family caregivers have suffered from depression.  These numbers would indicate that there is an incredible demand for literature on the subject of caregiving for a terminal patient. 

Since there is a lack of medical knowledge possessed by the average caregiver, they face criticism from both their family and from medical personnel as to whether they can handle the stress of becoming a caregiver.  Would the caregiver be able to give injections, monitor an erratic physical condition, help someone bathe, or do physical therapy at home?  

Because we are living longer -- but living sicker, death and end-of-life care have been assigned as a low cultural priority but family members need to decide up front if they are capable of becoming caregivers or if they need to put their relatives in nursing homes, use assisted living facilities or hire home health care workers.  Adult daycare services are really thriving also.  Those are the only options you have at this time. Read more about how to take care of seniors in the book "Golden Years: How To Age Gracefully and Take Care of Seniors."

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