It’s no surprise that we love caregivers! Many of the clients of Accredited Home Care have family members who help them throughout the day while we come in less frequently to provide supplementary home health care services.
Many members of our staff have also been in caregiving roles with their family members in the past, which helped them enhance the personal care, attention to detail and general empathy they share with their patients today.
Caregivers are also good sources of info for how a patient is doing – we may only see visit him or her a few times a week, but a caregiver has a better opportunity to observe and interact throughout the week.
We believe caregivers do so much for our clients, and now a new study offers proof!
The Journey Of Caregiving
The Merrill Lynch Bank of America Corporation recently partnered with Age Wave to publish “The Journey of Caregiving,” a report that shares information about the state of caregiving in the country, from demographics of caregiver types to impact on the economy to types of care provided. It is designed to focus on “Honor, Responsibility and Financial Complexity.”
Calling caregiving “life’s toughest and most rewarding job,” the summary paints a realistic picture of the modern demands of caregiving, often done with no compensation or days off. However, because caregivers are often happy to help a spouse, parent or child, most of them gladly do it. It helps keep a loved one near, often in their own home, and doesn’t require them to relocate to another facility.
Caregiving can create financial challenges as well – neither the caregiver or individual they’re helping are able to produce regular income, potentially making the situation less appealing, even if the family believes it’s necessary. They might not necessarily like the home care situation, but it’s often seen as the most affordable option.
Overall, the report can provide a useful glimpse into the reality facing today’s caregivers. More than 2,000 caregivers nationwide were surveyed to be part of this project.
It can give newer caregivers some info as they realize that they’re not alone, and that fellow caregivers from around the country are facing similar obstacles combined with many similar opportunities.
Types of Care
Many people think of caregiving as simply providing support for physical tasks as needed, such as transportation and support with balance. But interestingly, this represents only 64 percent of the total care provided.
Other types of care include medical care, such as help with health needs, which is 84 percent; household care, which can include food , cleaning and more; financial help, which includes paying bills, look at insurance policies and other financial arrangements, 92 percent; and emotional support, 98 percent.
The report pointed out that the “financial caregiving” provided is sometimes performed by people without training in these areas or even legal authorization such as power or attorney (a client may delegate these this type of tasks to a caregiver or family member, not because of their money skills, but because they’re taking care of other responsibilities.)
This lack of training in this area is concerning to some caregivers: 66 percent said they’d benefit from better financial education.
Who is Providing Care?
Caregivers are often family members with little actual formal health care training. On-the-job experience is valuable – about half have been caregivers for less than a year. Only 24 percent have been caregivers for more than five years.
Just about half are providing care to a parent, especially a mother, while 24 percent are caring for a spouse or partner. A wife providing help for a husband may often do so solo, while siblings and other trusted friends/family members or even paid staff may collectively help other family members.
Women represent 66 percent of all caregivers.
Why Caregiving Isn’t Easy
Those who took part in the survey reported a variety of challenges, the biggest being the mental and physical time and effort involved in the volunteer task, 68 percent. This was followed by the financial costs, 36 percent; and impact on one’s career, 18 percent.
The survey estimated that caregivers spend an average of $7,000 a year on food, supplies, medicine and other needs for the person they’re caring for.
If someone requires care for several years, it can impact family finances. Do you tap into savings? Does everyone chip in? What if more advanced care is needed?
The career challenge is also worth considering. Though some people may take on caregiving roles later in life, such as when they’re retired. But others may be asked to take on this role for a parent, grandparent or other family member when they’re in their 40s or 50s and still potentially have years of high earnings ahead. Adding caregiving duties along with a full- or part-time job might also might require adjusting one’s schedule.
The Good Points
While realistic concerns like money and effort are covered, the report also emphasizes why people take on these roles. Adult children are grateful to “return the favor” to a parent who took care of them. Others say being able to help, even if they’re not fully trained nurses or medical providers, can strengthen family bonds.
Accredited Home Care encourages people in caregiving situations to download and read the entire free report, including those who may have this role in the future.