Caregiver Assistance: Addressing Caregiver Stress

Caring for an aging family member is a labor of love. But study after study also shows the emotional, physical, and even financial stress that the caregiver incurs as a result.

Research conducted by MetLife revealed that approximately 10 million adult children over the age of 50 (that’s roughly a quarter of all Baby Boomers!) have taken on the role of caregiver for their aging parents, helping with a variety of tasks–everything from running errands and cooking to bathing and using the toilet. It’s a lot to take on, especially for caregivers who may also be juggling a career and their own children, which is likely why caregivers over age 50 who work and provide care to a parent are more likely to have fair or poor health as compared to peers who do not provide elder care.

A few other noteworthy stats from the study:

  • Adult daughters are more likely to provide help with daily care, and sons are more likely to provide monetary assistance.
  • The total estimated aggregate lost wages, pension, and Social Security benefits of these adult-child caregivers is nearly $3 trillion.
    • For women, the total individual amount of lost income (wages, Social Security benefits, pension) due to leaving the labor force early and/or reducing hours of work because of caregiving responsibilities averages $324,044. For men, it averages $283,716.*

Yet despite all of these physical and financial drawbacks, the adult-child-as-caregiver trend continues to grow rapidly in the United States. The MetLife study showed that the number of adult children providing personal care and/or financial assistance to an aging parent has more than tripled over the past 15 years.

Caring for the caregiver

It seems that caring for an aging parent is here to stay. So what can caregivers do to help alleviate some of the stress associated with the gig? Here are a few recommendations:

Prioritize your health

You can’t take care of someone else if you yourself are not healthy. A lot of elements fall under this category, but the short list would include:

  • Get sufficient sleep, which also means laying off the caffeine.
  • Eat healthfully, either by preparing healthy meals at home or finding local restaurants or meal delivery services that can provide nutritious food.
  • Exercise, even if it just means taking 15 minutes to walk around the block once or twice a day.
  • Go to the doctor (and dentist) to ensure you stay on top of any medical issues that might arise.
  • Take time away from your caregiving duties, and don’t feel guilty about it; everyone needs an occasional day off!

Get organized

There are only so many hours in your day, and caring for an elderly loved one can eat up a lot of time, so find an organization system that works for you and your family. Perhaps it is a large calendar where you and other family members denote appointments and events. Maybe it means prioritizing “extracurricular” activities and dropping a few that aren’t as important. Or it could be that a “to-do” list–either on paper or an app on your smartphone–saves you time and headaches. Whatever you choose, find a system that works for you, and it will automatically reduce headaches!

Talk about it

The anxiety associated with caregiving is up there with the stress people experience with new babies, career changes, deaths, and other major life moments. Talking to a trained therapist about the pressure, anger, and other emotions you feel as a result of caregiving can be a welcomed release. There are also numerous support groups offered for caregivers where you can find other people who are going through the same thing as you and can offer advice and emotional support. Family Caregiver Alliance and the Alzheimer’s Association offer online support groups, as well as several in-person groups.

Consider your options

If you agreed to provide care for an aging parent but then realized you have bitten off more than you can chew, it is good to understand all of your choices. A few to consider:

  • Assistive technologies can help seniors in a variety of ways and also give their families peace of mind if they are not physically with their loved one. There are more and more digital devices and computer programs that can do things like help keep track of when to take medications, convert e-books into larger type, monitor when doors open and close (even the refrigerator and microwave door), or get immediate help in an emergency situation.
  • A home-health aide can come to your/your loved one’s home for several hours a day to assist with medical and non-medical needs.
  • Similar to daycare for children, adult day care facilities will supervise your loved one for four or five hours a day. Some of these facilities even offer activities like music, art, and exercise. It is important to note that if your loved one has long-term care insurance, it may cover some of this expense.
  • Assisted living facilities provide seniors with help for daily living activities such as preparing meals, housekeeping, and personal care. While most assisted living facilities have residents who are there for the long-term, some facilities also offer short-term stays (also known as respite care). Long-term care insurance may cover some of this cost too.

Eldercare Locator and the Alzheimer’s Association’s Community Resources Finder can help you locate adult care in your area.

Put on your oxygen mask first

It’s like they say on an airplane: be sure to put your own oxygen mask on before helping those around you. Caring for an aging parent or family member is stressful, but you have to be sure to take care of yourself too. If you educate yourself about the various support options that are available to you and your family, you can improve quality of life for both you and the people you care for.

 

 

 

*https://www.metlife.com/mmi/research/caregiving-cost-working-caregivers.html#key findings

The above content is provided by and with express written permission from My LifeSite | www.mylifesite.net.

 


Tip #17 of 50 – Why Not Just Move Into A Hotel For Your Retirement?

As The Wesley Communities approach 50 years of excellent service, our CEO Peg Carmany offers “Peg’s Perspective” on a variety of topics affecting seniors and their adult children as they plan and choose to age well – 50 tips to celebrate 50 years!

Tip #17 of 50 –  Why not just move into a hotel for your retirement?

You may have seen the cartoons and ads and articles that suggest (some in all seriousness) that the price of retirement home living is high so, “Why not just move into a hotel?” The article then usually goes on about the price per day, and usually concludes (inaccurately) that hotel living is the better deal financially. Click the link above to learn more about why retirement communities are far superior to hotels.


An Interview with Janet Herring : A Wesley Ridge Resident With A Truly Special Past

Recently, The Wesley Ridge Retirement Community book club read the historical fiction novel, The Atomic City Girls. The group was lucky to have the author, Janet Beard, visit to discuss the book and meet with the residents who read it.

The novel chronicles the making of the atomic bomb in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where hundreds of young women were hired to work on special tasks, which were never truly explained. The workers at Oak Ridge were instructed that they were helping to win the war, but were told to ask no questions and to reveal nothing to outsiders.

While all of our Wesley Ridge book club members were excited to meet with the author, one resident in particular, Janet Herring, had an even greater enthusiasm, she was one of the young women who worked at Oak Ridge in 1945. Click the above link to learn more about Janet and her interesting past.


Physical Fitness and Aging

We all want our parents to remain as active and independent as possible, and we want the same thing for ourselves! Regular exercise is pivotal for seniors. Seniors are at greater risk for disease, lost mobility, and falls than any other age group. Conversely, they often realize the positive effects of exercise more quickly than other age group. If your parent hasn’t been exercising, it can be difficult to get started.

Healthaging.net offers some tips to get over that initial hump. Click the link above to learn more.


When to Get On the Wait List at a Retirement Community

If you or a loved one is considering their senior living options, you likely have begun doing research on the retirement communities. Or perhaps you have a loved one in need of long-term care or memory care and staying in the home will not be safe for much longer. With all of the differing communities and facilities available (especially in larger cities), it can be a lot to take in so the decision process can take some time. This varies from one person to another because some senior living decisions are needs-based and move much quicker, while others are more preference-based and can take months or even years. Once you hone in on a few specific places that meet your criteria, you may want to consider getting your name on their waiting lists. Many facilities, particularly assisted living or nursing care facilities, are likely that they have one. Click the link above to learn more.


Tip #16 of 50 – “This is Not Your Grandmother’s Retirement Community”

For those of us “in the industry,” retirement community living makes a great deal of sense. We know that loneliness is a major factor in the mental and physical decline in the senior population. We also know that the residents who live in our communities are glad they’re here . . . and that they often say, “I wish I’d come sooner.” Learn more about how The Wesley Communities are not like your grandmother’s retirement community by clicking the link above.


Older Adults and the Benefits of Meditation

At any stage of life, taking time to relax and find peace of mind is important. We all have daily stresses to deal with, and learning how best to deal with them is critical in order to mitigate the negative effects that come with those daily stressors. In today’s world, dedicating time to reflect and relax has become more prevalent. However, sometimes it’s “easier said than done” to find ways to truly bring a sense of calm into one’s day.


Healthy Aging Through Food

We all know that a low salt, low fat diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber can reduce the risk of age related health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, osteoporosis, and other chronic diseases. However, there are lots of other foods out there. Can you eat those other foods and still experience healthy aging? Yes!


What is the Happiest Age? (You Might Be Surprised by the Answer!)

What age group of adults would you think is the happiest? If most people were to guess, they’d likely assume people in their 20s and 30s are the most content. Why wouldn’t they be, right? They are young and likely healthy, and they have their whole lives ahead of them, full of potential and exciting events.

If you think young adults have it all, you may be surprised to learn the results of a study conducted out of the University of California-San Diego; the research results were published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Happiness comes with maturity…


Tip # 15 of 50 – One of the Hardest Decisions There Is: When (and how) Do You Take the Car Keys Away?

If this title caught your eye, you may very well be on the horns of dilemma. You might be an adult son or daughter, a spouse, or a good friend from church or the neighborhood, and you’re dealing with a very tricky problem – your loved one probably shouldn’t be driving anymore. There have been a few too many “Mr. McGoo” moments, perhaps a damaged garage door or fender with no explanation? Or worse? An accident where someone has been injured? The latter is actually easier to deal with than the former, I’ve found.


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