Updated: Apr 21
The Many and Unrecognized Roles of a Caregiver.
If there is an older adult in your life, most likely you are a caregiver or will be one in the future, but do you consider yourself a caregiver?
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that in any given month nearly one-quarter of adults over the age of 45 in the United States provide care or assistance to an adult friend or family member and nearly half of adults will provide care within the year. Are you one of these nearly 40 million caregivers?
The definition of a caregiver is short, but it is not simple - an informal or family caregiver is any unpaid individual involved in assisting others with activities of daily living. This can be a gradual process - occasional social visits turn into regular visits to help with errands or tasks and before you realize it, you have become a caregiver, helping with tasks such as:
Helping around the home Cooking/meal preparation Managing medical appointments Transportation Shopping Cleaning Laundry Managing Medication
Managing finances Personal hygiene Dressing Toileting Mobility Eating Administering medications Blood sugar testing Monitoring vital signs
We often think of a caregiver as the spouse, partner, or adult child of the older adult. These are the most common scenarios with nearly 50% of family caregivers caring for a parent or parent-in-law and 12% for a spouse or partner. Yet siblings, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and neighbors also play significant roles as caregivers and should be prepared.
Caregivers serve as a critical support system to older adults. They spend hours researching care solutions, resources, and benefits as well as responding to emergencies and serving as an integral source of social interaction and emotional support.
As caregiving responsibilities increase and get more intense, caregivers can be faced with significant changes in their lives. As more time is spent on caregiving tasks, caregivers may experience faltering personal relationships, changes in their physical and mental wellbeing, a decline in work performance, or financial challenges.
Even a few hours of caregiving each week can disrupt normal routines and relationships and over time - the physical and emotional stressors associated with caregiving only add up. This is why it is so important for caregivers to get support, no matter where they are in their caregiving journey. Proactively learning about resources and benefits and developing a care plan can lessen the stress of caregiving during a crisis.
No matter how involved you are in the day-to-day care of an older adult, Mellie can help you prepare for your role as a caregiver.