When a family member or friend of ours becomes older or disabled, we may find ourselves in a new role as a caregiver. According to a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, over 44 million people are unpaid caregivers to older people and adults with disabilities. This is a challenging role taken on by family friends and relatives as an act of love and kindness. We do this because it matters to us that our loved ones have the best care they can get. No doubt being a caregiver is a very rewarding experience but it comes at a high cost to us and to our families on many different levels.
According to AARP, the unpaid family caregiver spends an average of $2,400.00 per year on the person they care for. The caregivers’ expenses often include the purchase of personal items, over the counter medications, or household supplies for the loved one. There may be purchases of household goods or payment for modifications to the home for safety reasons. Transportation costs for running errands and going to the doctor are a frequent expense along with money spent on food and meals. As a caregiver, you generally don’t think of what appears to be minor expenses incurred during a labor of love but minor expenses quickly add up. Other financial expenses come from lost time and wages at work due to the time we may have to take off to care for our loved ones as emergencies arise or problems occur.
Perhaps the highest cost of care we pay as caregivers is the high level of stress felt as a direct result of this labor of love. The typical caregiver has to juggle a job, family life and personal health issues with being both a care coordinator and a service provider to their loved one. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get things done. This chronic stress level leads to another set of issues. As a result of this chronic stress, over 70% of caregivers deal with some degree of depression. In addition, the stress is a major contributing factor to a variety of health issues such as a weakened immune system, hypertension, diabetes, and acid reflux. This is all compounded by the fact that the time we spend on giving care is generally the time we would have spent on taking care of ourselves.
As caregivers, we need to know our own limits. We’ve taken on a job we probably were not trained for and surely found ourselves in a position we never expected to be in. We need to understand how much of ourselves we can actually give without hurting ourselves beyond the point of being useful to our loved ones. The lesson to be learned is to recognize when we need help. Visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com