Caregivers of the Elderly: Who are they?
According to the National Family Caregivers Association, “Family caregivers are the glue that holds our healthcare system together. Eighty percent of all home care is provided by family caregivers. The market value of services caregivers provide is valued at more than $194 billion a year. That is more than the total of all spending on formal homecare and nursing home services combined. Truly family caregivers are a valuable national resource.”
NFCA surveyed their members and found some surprising facts:
Over 75% of family caregivers are women
70% are between the ages of 36 and 65
More than 60% say they have suffered from depression due to their caregiving experience
67% say frustration is the emotion they experience most often
On the positive side, 70% found an inner strength they didn’t know they had.
The full study can be purchased from NFCA.
However, the members surveyed are those who provide intensive caregiving services to a disabled or frail adult. They are the wonderful people that keep grandparents out of nursing homes and young stroke victims from being warehoused.
“The sandwich generation” is broader than this. Concern about and care for older adults is on the minds of most people over 40. Look around you. In your office or social group, I would venture to guess that the subject of aging parents comes up quite frequently. Just as younger moms take time off for work to care for sick children, “moms in the middle” often take time off work, or spend hours on the phone, dealing with elder health and eldercare crises.
And to be equitable, men certainly do this as well although caregiving is stereotypically a women’s issue.
So because this is such a widespread phenomenon, there is considerable interest and support for the caregiver. It is on the web, in your community and in your church. It may not be within your home, however, and some marriages are quite stressed by the pull of children AND elders.
If the caregiver is able to care for herself, first, she is most likely going to be successful in the dual (perhaps triple?) role of “mom in the middle.” The NFCA and others provide great tips, mainly focusing on self-care and assertiveness.