Understanding Caregiving

A 2015 report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP found that 43.5 million Americans are providing unpaid care for an adult or child. Caregiving may involve shopping, housekeeping, providing transportation, feeding, bathing, toilet assistance, dressing, walking, coordinating appointments and medical treatments, and managing a person’s finances. To provide unpaid care is often an act of love and devotion, but also a great drain on one's physical and psychological resources. Caregivers frequently feel as though they are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which can cause great stress and anxiety. Women are more likely to take on the caregiver role, although men do as well. Their patients are loved ones, most often a parent, spouse, or child (of any age) with special medical needs. Caregivers must pay particular attention to their own needs, or they risk burning out and being of no use to their loved one.


Take Good Care

The act of caregiving creates an intimate, two-way relationship between caregiver and the person needing care. While the caregiver struggles to meet the individual's daily requirements, they cannot neglect their own health. Those who are responsible for many individuals at the same time—for example, aging parents and young children—often put their own health and needs last. Caregivers must also pay attention to their mental and emotional resources: Burnout and empathy depletion are common and need to be treated seriously. Balancing the needs of the family and the self is key.


Aging, Burnout, Family Dynamics, Stress

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