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Essentials for Agile Caregiving: Laying a Foundation

Caregiving is hard work.

According to a 2015 caregiving report by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), family caregivers are getting younger, more diverse, and experience high levels of stress (AARP, NAC).

With the rapid growth of our aging population, grim predictions abound that in the years ahead, we’ll face an extreme shortage of family caregivers. As Dr. Susan Reinhard, senior vice president and director, AARP Public Policy Institute; and chief strategist, Center to Champion Nursing in America notes, “As previous AARP research has shown, we’re facing a caregiving cliff. By mid-century, there will be only three family caregivers available for each person requiring care…we need to provide support for existing caregivers who are underserved by the current long-term services and support system” (PR Web).

Look familiar?

In addition, the report gives highlights of today’s caregivers, which may look similar to your situation:

  • 82% care for one person who is likely either living with the caregiver or living within 20 minutes of the caregiver.
  • 60% of caregivers are female. The typical caregiver is a 49-year-old female caring for a 69-year-old female relative, most likely her mother.
  • 40% of caregivers are male.
  • 34% of caregivers have a full-time job, while 25% work part time. Caregivers who work do so for 34.7 hours per week on average.
  • Caregivers have been caring for 4 years on average, spending 24.4 hours per week helping with activities like bathing, dressing, housework, and managing finances.
  • 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 (PR Web).

If you’re a family caregiver, likely little of that is news to you.

Mom and Me—Our Caregiving Journey

Having been the primary caregiver for my mom for many years, it’s not news to me, either. However, research like this is critically important to help form public policy to increase access to resources and support for family caregivers. And for those of us with personal experience, it validates the blessings and challenges of caring for a family member.

And that’s what my journey with Mom was. A blessing. And sometimes a challenge. Certainly for us both.

But what a ride. What a privilege. What a gift.

I loved the caregiving journey Mom and I shared.
Cruising for Mom’s 80th!

Mom died May 29, 2015 at 10:50 pm—in her own home with us, in her own bed, with me by her side. Caring for her in the final years of her life and accompanying her on her journey Home was the one thing I really needed to do in this life. I’m so grateful the Lord made that possible.

Betty J. Scott (1930-2015)

You and I—your caregiving journey

There are many wonderful resources available for family caregivers, and my intent is certainly not to compete with them. Rather, I want to collaborate, to point you in the right direction for support and to add additional perspectives that I’ve gained as a daughter and caregiver for nearly ten years—and as a nurse for over three decades.

I promise to be as authentic as possible.

However, in that context, my priority will always be to honor and respect the privacy and dignity of others first. If I can share a story to make a point, I will. If not, I’ll find another way to do it.

Largely what will be available here will be based on your input and feedback. I have plans for what I intend to develop and provide in my offerings, but I want to be responsive to your needs, as well.

If it’s something that already exists somewhere else, I’ll help to steer you in that direction. If it’s something that needs to be created, I’ll dig in and begin to build. We’ll take this journey together.

Thanks so much for being here with me. I know if you’re a family caregiver, that your plate overfloweth, and your time is precious.

I’ll be praying for you, your loved one(s), and your journey together.

As for our journey, I’ll do my best to ensure you’re blessed with the support you’re looking for.

 

References

AARP, NAC. 2015 Report: Caregiving in the U.S. (2015, June). Retrieved from http://www.caregiving.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015_CaregivingintheUS_Final-Report-June-4_WEB.pdf

AARP Public Policy Institute. Assessing Family Caregiver Needs: Policy and Practice Considerations. (2012, June). Retrieved from https://eldercareworkforce.org/files/caregiver-fact-sheet-AARP-ppi-ltc.pdf

PR Web. New Study Identifies Challenges for Family Caregivers, Caregiving Solutions Needed. (2015, June 04). Retrieved from http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/06/prweb12765231.htm

This post is one of several that make up an edition of my Agile Caregiving series offerings.

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