Let’s talk about caregiving!

By Pastor Jim Alexander, Associate Pastor

Let’s talk about Caregiving! Beginning with this article and then each of the WISE pages in our Orders of Worship throughout August, you will find information and support regarding caregiving. Did you know that more than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one? Did you know that family caregivers are the foundation of long-term care? 51% of care recipients live in their own home, 29% live with their family caregiver and 4% live in nursing homes or assisted living centers.

The average family caregiver for someone 50 years or older spends over $5,500 per year on out of pocket expenses, and 47% of working caregivers indicate an increase in caregiving expenses has caused them to use up most or all of their savings. 40% to 70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression with approximately a quarter to half of those meeting the diagnostic criteria for major depression. In light of these statistics, it is profoundly important that the family caregiver be supported mentally, physically, and spiritually. Over the next month, we will share resources that may help. Let’s start with the top 10 tips for the Family Caregiver.

  1. Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone!
  2. Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
  3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
  4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  5. Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
  6. Watch out for signs of depression and don’t delay getting professional help when you need it.
  7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
  8. Organize medical information so that it is up to date and easy to find.
  9. Make sure legal documents are in order.
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best job you can in one of the toughest jobs there is.

Caregiver Action Network (CAN):

CAN is the nation’s leading family caregiver organization working to improve the quality of life for the more than 90 million Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age. CAN serves a broad spectrum of family caregivers ranging from the parents of children with special needs, to the families and friends of wounded soldiers; from a young couple dealing with a diagnosis of MS, to adult children caring for parents with Alzheimer’s disease. CAN (formerly the National Family Caregivers Association) is a non-profit organization providing education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers across the country, free of charge. You can call for assistance at 1.855.227.3640 or logon to caregiveraction.org.