Who cares for the caregivers?
The most important thing that I tell all caregivers, is that they need to take care of themselves, otherwise they won’t be able to care for their loved one,” said Doris Haines-Staddler, MSSW, a social worker with Ministry Home Care’s Hospice Program in Stevens Point. “And I know how hard that is. When my husband had cancer, the hardest part for me was admitting to myself that I could not do it alone,” she said. “We needed our family and friends to help with the journey – they also wanted and personally needed to be with us.”
An estimated 44 million American adults voluntarily take care of an older person or a person with disabilities. Shorter hospital stays and the trend toward home care has increased this responsibility.
“Caring for yourself and not knowing how long this role will last are the two biggest challenges for a caregiver,” said Doris. “Caregiving is a physically, emotionally and spiritually demanding experience.”
Women who spend 9+ hours a week caring for a critically ill or disabled spouse double their risk for heart disease.*
Estimates show that 40 to 70 percent of caregivers have symptoms of depression;
they also have higher levels of stress
Stress Management than non-caregivers and have heightened feelings of frustration, anger and guilt. Studies show that women who spend more than 9 hours a week caring for a critically ill or disabled spouse increase their risk for heart disease two-fold.*
If you are a caregiver, make sure that you eat a nutritious diet, get your rest, ask for help, take a break, exercise, keep your own medical appointments, and find someone to talk to about your challenges. It’s important for caregivers to find ways to rest and recharge. This may involve asking a family member or friend to stay with their loved one. Often a few hours, a day or a few days away can help.
There are organizations that can assist with information and resources for caregiving. Aging and Disability Resource Centers, County Departments on Aging, hospice programs, and the Internet have resources and provide helpful tips on caregiving, managing caregiver stress and caring for the caregiver.
Doris provides support and assistance to patients and families who are facing a variety of end-of-life concerns. She helps patients and families deal with caregiving, coping, relationships and grief and loss.
For more information, visit www.aarp.org; www.caregiverstress.com; or www.caregiving.org or contact Ministry Home Care at 800.397.0270.
*Source: Family Caregiver Alliance (www.caregiving.org)