As more Americans insist on aging in place, family members and friends find themselves filling the role of caregiver.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, the percentage of caregivers who are caring for those aged 85 or older is 70 percent, with parent care making up the majority of those caregiving situations. Most care recipients – 58 percent – continue to reside in their own homes, with another 20 percent living with their caregiver.
While the situation may seem ideal for seniors who wish to remain in their own homes, it is not necessarily a good thing for the caregiver. Family Caregiver Alliance estimates that 70 percent of working caregivers suffer work-related issues due to their caregiving duties, with 69 percent of them needing to reduce their working hours or taking an unpaid leave of absence. Another 5 percent turned down the opportunity for a promotion due to the inability to work extra hours or take on extra duties, and 37 percent ended up quitting their jobs altogether because the stress of being a caregiver prevented them from meeting normal work demands. Working women make up 16 percent of all caregivers and suffer the most professionally.
In addition to the effect caregiving has on a caregiver’s job, even more trouble is the fact that over 63 percent of all caregivers die before those they are caring for, according to a six-year study by a research team at Ohio State University. Due to the stress and demands of caring for another person, caregivers often miss their own medical appointments and miss important signs and symptoms of their own illnesses. The extreme stress associated with being a constant caregiver also can affect one’s emotional state. Among other things, caregivers are more prone to experience depression due to a loss of social standing or relationships because demands are placed on their time by the person for whom they are caring.
While caregivers face emotional and physical challenges to serving in the role, many do so because they are racked with guilt if they say no to a loved one who has asked for their help. There are alternatives to being forced into a role for which you are neither equipped nor capable of performing. Options are available as part of the Upside of Downsizing® conference. Registration information is available here.