Reflecting on Caregivers
As Psych360 wraps up November and heads into December, we wanted to take a look at an important role in the long-term care community: caregivers. Celebrated every November, National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM) is a time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. It offers an opportunity to raise awareness of caregiving issues, educate communities, and increase support for caregivers. Families and long-term care employees are the vital sources of support to seniors and they provide emotional, physical, and even financial support when needed.
The Sandwich Generation
According to The New York Times, the “Sandwich Generation” is a new term to define those between age 35-60 who take care of their children as well as their parents. 12 percent of parents are part of the sandwich generation according to data from the Pew Research Center. Sandwich generation parents who are between 18 and 44 are spending about 3 hours per day on caretaking, compared with similar parents over 45 who average closer to 2 hours per day. The most common struggle of this demographic is compassion fatigue which is best helped by the following:
- Taking time to recharge
- Hiring someone to help out (like a nurse) or considering a long-term care plan
- Sharing the load with your relatives
- Determining your non-negotiable needs
- Talking to your employer about future time off for appointments
If you think you’ll become your parents’ caretaker in the future, experts suggest that you start talking to them about their financial situation now because it may take years for them to be willing to accept your help. Psych360 can also provide mental health support to you and your older loved one through this difficult time.
The four types of caretakers:
With everyone’s different life plan in place, as well as a common desire to help people we love, there are different types of caretakers outlined by Griswold Homecare that can play different roles in your or your senior’s life:
- Family Caregiver: A family caregiver is a relative who provides emotional, financial, nursing, social, homemaking, and other services on a daily or intermittent basis for an ill or disabled loved one at home.
- Professional Caregiver: A professional caregiver is hired to provide care for a care recipient. These caregivers can provide medical or non-medical care in the home or a facility.
- Independent Caregiver: The term independent caregiver is commonly used to describe a home care professional who does not work for an agency. An independent caregiver is employed directly by the family.
- Volunteer Caregiver: A volunteer provides breaks for someone who is caring for an adult with a disability, chronic illness, or those in hospice. They provide non-medical companionship, and a friendly face for a person with special needs so that the caregiver has some time away.
What does it mean to be a caregiver?
Anyone can be a caregiver, but it is important to know that some programs (such as Veterans’ Assistance and Medicaid) offer paid support for a registered caregiver in a family. You can also check to see if your loved one has long-term care insurance. That unpaid commitment can make it hard for caregivers to make ends meet. 28 percent of Americans surveyed say they have stopped saving money, and 23 percent have taken on more debt, an AARP/NAC study found. Growing awareness of this financial burden has fueled a national conversation around issues like paid leave and even outright payment for family caregivers.
What can we do?
National Family Caregivers Month brings awareness to this crucial role in the lives of the elderly. Increasing public awareness of these issues is an important first step for identifying informal caregivers as valued members of a support team for those who need assistance. If you know someone in your life who takes on this role, be sure to offer a helping hand and show them support for all that they do. The Psych360 team thanks all caregivers this month, and every month going forward.
Psych360 provides comprehensive mental health solutions for long-term care communities. We deliver a hybrid of both on-site and telehealth psychiatric and psychological services for your residents. Connect with us at psych360.org or give us a call at (330) 536-3746 for more information.