A family caregiver is a spouse, partner, or family member who helps a senior loved one as life gets difficult for them to manage alone. A family caregiver might be an advocate for their loved one, help them find appropriate care and a good place to live, or they might assist with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks. Sometimes these caregivers are referred to as informal caregivers and they are typically not paid for their caregiving duties. Family caregivers play a vital role and are considered the backbone of our eldercare system.
Family caregivers do not serve their loved ones without a cost. Caregiver burden is an all-encompassing term used to describe the physical, emotional and financial toll of providing care.
Here are some common problems that arise for a family caregiver:
- lack of family and societal support – many family caregivers are all alone in their efforts for caring for a loved one.
- high burden of care – family caregivers need affordable, high quality professional caregivers to call on so that they can take a much needed break
- high emotional stress – the impact of caring for a loved one takes a toll on the health of a caregiver.
- financial stress: many family caregivers have to quit their jobs in order to provide adequate care. They deplete their own savings.
The statistics are staggering. The following statistics are from the report Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 (National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP)
- Nearly 40 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult in the last year.
- 32% provide at least 21 hours of care a week, on average providing 62.2 hours of care weekly.
- 38% of caregivers report high emotional stress from the demands of caregiving.
- When asked if they had a choice in taking on their caregiving role, half of respondents said no.
- The typical higher-hour caregiver (at least 21 hours a week) has been caregiver for an average of 5 1/2 years and expects to continue care for another 5 years
- Most commonly, caregivers are doing medical/nursing tasks without any preparation (42%).
When we fail to support caregivers, we put both the caregiver and the care recipient at risk.
— Gail Gibson Hunt, AARP
Norma Smiles addresses the needs of family caregivers
Norma Smiles knows first hand the difficult journey of being a family caregiver. We offer much needed support to family members caring for a loved one with the following services:
- respite care coordination
- subsidized in-home backup care
- financial support for those who can not afford respite care
- unlimited access to training on topics such as general caregiving, end of life support, dementia-care
- much needed fellowship and support through our Champions circle
- assistance with finding the perfect caregiver for you and your loved one’s needs
- guidance in how to be an advocate for your loved one
- advocacy for the creation of caregiving-friendly benefits by Employers
- retreats for rest and renewal