Caring for another human on a daily basis--whether a child, a spouse, or an aging parent--is a challenging, and often exhausting, task. When being a caregiver is your daily existence, it becomes easy to take all your hard work for granted. Caregiver Appreciation Day is trying to change all that.
March 3, 2017 marks Caregiver Appreciation Day, which is a day that recognizes “tens of millions of Americans, who selflessly give their time to care for those who are ill, disabled, or elderly.”
Facts About Caregiving
There are currently a little over 40 million caregivers in the United States who are providing unpaid care to an adult over the age of 65. And while the majority of caregivers are caring for one elderly parent, according to the Pew Research Center, “22% provide help to two and 7% provide help to three or more. Roughly half of these caregivers have been providing help for two years or less. More than a third have been providing care for five or more years.”
Caregiving in the U.S., a 2015 report put together by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, discovered that “on average, caregivers spend 24.4 hours a week providing care for their loved one.” Here’s how that time typically breaks down:
- 59 percent of them help their loved ones with an Activity of Daily Living, including providing them with transportation, grocery shopping, running their errands or doing housework.
- 43 percent help a loved one get in and out of beds and chairs.
- 66 percent monitor their loved one’s health care in order to adjust their level of care as they see fit.
- 63 percent communicate with healthcare professionals on their loved one’s behalf
- And 50 percent serve as advocates for their loved ones.
The daily duties caregivers take on for aging loved ones, in addition to their own struggles managing a work/life balance, it’s no wonder that most caregivers report feeling stressed out. The National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare report that “Nearly three quarters (72%) of family caregivers report not going to the doctor as often as they should and 55% say they skip doctor appointments for themselves. 63% of caregivers report having poor eating habits than non-caregivers and 58% indicate worse exercise habits than before caregiving responsibilities.”
It is for these reasons that Caregiver Appreciation Day exists.
Daily Caregiver Support
Part of what Caregiver Appreciation Day aims to do, is to increase awareness about how thankless caregiving can tend to be by encouraging friends and family members of caregivers to recognize their hard work. As a caregiver, support and compassion can help to prevent caregiver burnout.
Caregiver burnout is a real condition, which occurs when caregivers have reached maximum emotional, physical and mental stress levels. Caregiver burnout can take a serious toll on those who experience it, including deterioration of your health and well being. It’s important to understand caregiver burnout and how to combat it in order to remain physically and emotionally strong enough to continue to help others in your life.
As a friend or loved one of someone who is caring for an elderly parent, you can provide them with caregiver support in the following ways:
- Listen and Observe. Sometimes when people are stressed they are unable to properly communicate what they are feeling. Try to be more aware of what the caregiver in your life is going through by observing their behavior and listening to them if they need to vent.
- Say “Thank You.” It seems like such a small thing, but more often than not caregivers are taken for granted. A simple “thank you,” or a small token of appreciation can go a long way in brightening up their day.
- Suggest A Day Off. While many caregivers don’t feel as though they can “afford” to take a day off, or feel guilty about indulging in themselves, taking some “me time” is necessary to their emotional survival. And it doesn’t have to be a full vacation, there are plenty of staycation options out there for caregivers as well.
Caregiver Appreciation Day Every Day
In order to take more time to yourself throughout your experience as a family caregiver, invest in a Medical Guardian medical alert system for your loved one. With guaranteed round-the-clock monitoring services, you can finally indulge in more “me-time” and have greater peace of mind about your loved one’s safety.