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|Newsletters: Caregiving Is Not Easy|
Caregiving Is Not Easy
As many lifeliners have experienced, caregiving for the chronically ill is not easy. In fact, many caregivers feel overburdened and have few resources or support systems to assist them, according to a survey by the National Family Caregivers Association.
The survey found that most caregivers are married women between the ages of 40 and 60. More than half of the respondents care for a spouse, whereas roughly one-quarter care for a parent and 17 percent care for a child.
Only 22 percent of the respondents said they were full-time caregivers. Of the rest who have other responsibilities, 42 percent manage multiple tasks which include employment, well child care, housework and volunteerism. More than half of these active caregivers have full-time jobs. As the survey summarizes, “When you add the responsibilities of caregiving on top of the non-caregiving responsibilities just noted, a significant picture of an overworked population emerges.”
In addition to the traditional role of assisting people with daily living activities (e.g. dressing, feeding, bathing) and health care tasks, a majority of survey respondents listed providing emotional support and guardianship as primary caregiving responsibilities. This emotional component of caregiving contributes significantly to the high stress levels of caregivers.
Sixty-five percent of the caregivers surveyed do not receive help from other family members with their caregiving responsibilities, and most indicated a strong desire for affordable respite care and household help.
“Overall,” the survey concluded, “caregivers feel a high degree of loss of self and family. They have a tendency toward depression, and most often feel frustrated and sad.” Specifically, 47 percent of those surveyed noted loss of leisure time, 41 percent noted role reversals and changes in family dynamics, and 40 percent noted a sense of isolation and lack of understanding from others as significant causes of stress. Despite this, caregivers are steadfast in their resolve, which may be attributed to the fact that they have found an inner strength with which to carry on.
National Family Caregivers Association (NFCA) is a not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to improve the overall quality of life of America’s 18 million family caregivers. For more information contact NFCA at 9621 East Bexhill Drive, Kensington, MD 20895-3104, (800) 896-3650 or (301) 942-6430.
Copyright © 1995 The Oley Foundation