We often take certain people for granted not thinking about how much they do for our own emotional, mental or physical wellbeing. On this Labor Day, I want to thank caregivers for what they do for people living with conditions most of us can't imagine living with. Caregivers may be family members, or people contracted by employers such as Home Care Provider Agencies. They often care for the sick, seniors living with dementia, or for people living with various disabilities. I will not go into the details of responsibilities because this varies depending on the type of care they give, but caregiving is a daunting responsibility and requires first of all, a person born with built in stamina, empathy, and inherent love for the wellbeing of others.
Here are some statistics about caregivers from the Caregiver Action Network:
- 40%-70% of family caregivers have clinically significant symptoms of depression
- The value of the services family caregivers provide for "free," when caring for older adults is estimated to be $375 billion a year.
- 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.
- 14% of family caregivers care for a special needs child with an estimated 16.8 million caring fro special needs children under 18 years of age.
- 78% of adults living in the community and in need of long term care depend on family and friends as their only source of help.
I belong to a closed Facebook Group called Alzheimer's and Dementia Caregivers Support Group, and read about all the heartache family members go through. With respect to the group members, I will never share anything specific details or names of fellow group members, but overall, members share their feelings, thoughts, pleas, prayers, and anger that they feel during and after the painful process that all of us go through when we care for a loved one living with dementia. My mother passed away from dementia-related causes in 2016 before I knew about this group, but I joined just last year because I want to be a support-giver to others who are experiencing what my siblings and I did before my mother passed, and what I experienced while helping to take care of my mother-in-law who was (and still lives) with Alzheimers. Dementia is wicked and being a caregiver can be a lonely, energy-sapping, traumatic process. When I read posts that sounds like the caregiver is about to give up and fling themselves out the window, I know that feeling. I empathize and send a suggestion that they hire a caregiver to give them respite. This is what my husband and I did when we realized that we were prisoners in our home, strangers to each other, and chained to what we felt was our sole responsibility in the care of his mother who was living with us until we realized she needed more intense care for her disease.
So to end this little blog before the clock strikes 10PM EDT, I want to thank the caregivers of this world who take care of people in need. You are special people and should be recognized for the hard work you do. Dementia (such as Alzheimer's) is a tragic disease -- not only for the person living with it, but for the family members who witness their loved ones' lives inching away.