Caring for the Caregiver
It Takes a Village
By the North County Staff
Care for caregivers
About 52 million people provide unpaid, informal care at home to a loved one aged 20 or older, although the number varies by study depending on the criteria used to define caregivers. Of those, 32 million—or 16 percent of the population—provide care for someone aged 50 or more.
That’s a lot of people. And nearly a third of all caregivers provide at least 40 hours of care each week.
Unpaid caregivers are not only caring for their family members: as many as a fourth are caring for a friend or neighbor. Considering the emphasis on being a good neighbor that is part of Oklahoma’s culture, the percentage in our state may be even higher.
Caregivers of people aged 65 or older have an average age of 63, according to studies, and one third of those caregivers are not in good health. Also, as the individual who is being cared for gets older, the more hours the informal caregiver will have to spend on caregiving.
These caregivers often also have jobs to go to. As many as 35 percent of all workers say that they provide, or have recently provided, care to someone aged 65 or older.
Is it any wonder caregivers, who tend to be women, often suffer from anxiety and depression? As many as 50 percent of caregivers have at least some symptoms of depression. They also tend to struggle through each day with not enough sleep, are more likely to have high blood pressure and blood sugar levels, have impaired immune systems, and are at risk for cardiovascular disease. Elderly caregivers have a 63 percent higher mortality rate than their non-caregiving peers.
Sadly, the stress can be too much for some people, and they may do things that harm the individual being cared for. The flip side is that caregiving does have beneficial effects, such as feeling appreciated and an improved relationship with the one they’re caring for.
If you provide care to a loved one, remember that if your health suffers so will the person being cared for. Make sure to arrange for someone to come and care for the individual on a regular basis so that you have time for yourself to de-stress.
If you have trouble finding someone to spell you, or if no one seems qualified to do so, remember that a number of nursing homes, including North County, offer respite services. Several studies show that use of support services, like respite care, measurably improve caregiver depression, anxiety, and anger.
At North County, a respite stay can be as short as a few days—enough time for you to catch up on other things that need to be done and spend time doing something enjoyable so that you will be around for a long time to provide care for your loved one.
North County provides long term care and rehabilitation at 310 West Taft in Sapulpa. You can contact us at Admissions@ArborVillageNursing.com or visit our website at www.ArborVillageNursing.com.