What About Me?
"I was not prepared for how much my life would change when I became my Dad's care giver."
Caregivers and Care Managers are special people. We are strong, dedicated and selfless individuals. We accept this role and the price that comes along with it. It has a way of changing things from our relationships with our spouse/life partner, our children, siblings and most of all -the one with yourself to our careers and even our own future retirement.
There is very little being said about the side affects of being a Caregiver and the scars it makes on us. We are made to feel like there is something wrong with us and its all in our head - the stress, frustrations, the worry, the fear, the challenges and "battles" of just getting through each day when you are caring for someone. We understand because we felt the same as you.
What you are feeling is real, valid and has a name: Caregiver Stress Syndrome. Here is where you can read more about this (Caregiver.com; The Caregiver Syndrome by Ron Ingber.)
"Caregiver stress syndrome is a condition characterized by physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. It typically results from a person neglecting their own physical and emotional health because they are focused on caring for an ill, injured or disabled loved one."
This is not a diagnosis! Nor are we medical professionals. Our goal is to share with you information that we have been looking for to define how we were feeling and ways to address many of the issues related with the Caregiver role.
Yes, your life does matter.
"Thanks for the "girls night out" invite - sorry can't make it. Its just not possible for me to go out unless I can find someone to cover caring for my Dad."
"I'm on the fast path for a promotion, but now Mom is moving in with me. I'm not sure if I will be able care for her and work full-time."
"The sister-in-law is setting up a spa day, but you cannot afford to go since you are paying some of Mom's bills out of your own pocket."
Caregiver Syndrome is not the only health condition affecting Caregivers. Some are experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD).
Even now, Caregivers are living in the shadows. No one is keeping track of the information about this "unofficial occupation". The safety and job environment issues which normally would fall under OSHA regulations or the Labor Department do not apply to us.
Furthermore, as some of us eventually step out of the Caregiver role when the loved one passes away, the life as the Caregiver is buried with along with them. Everyone who has ever done this will agree that this job "sucks"; however, the motivation to make any needed changes to make this job better for future Caregivers dies off as well.
When Caregivers are finally released from their indenture, they will try to pick up the pieces of their life from where it left off before the journey started. This should sound like a happy ending which in reality for some of us - it is not.
The concerns, the issues and the impacts of being in the Caregiver role is all very real. However, since no one is tracking any of the the information about how this role is affecting us, these issues remain unidentified, undocumented and unresolved.
"Make time for yourself a task item. It does not make you a bad Caregiver - it makes you a stronger one when you do!"
"You know, our home helpers are not just to help your Dad - they are there to support you too." Frank Esterlie, owner of Home Helpers Home Care Services.
Finding data to reinforce the issues related to being a Caregiver is not easy nor is it hardly ever a trending topic on social media. But when it finally is, that's Headline News!
Over half of female Caregivers agree with the following statements according to Julie Hyman Anchor; Yahoo Money :
"I'm afraid that caregiving expenses will keep me from ever retiring (83%)"
"Being a caregiver will likely use up the money that I had planned to leave for my children's inheritance (64%)"
Being a caregiver could use up the money I had planned to use for my children's education (57%)"
Here is the VLog in its entirety: Study: Women bear the brunt of caring for aging parents; Yahoo Money -Julie HymanAnchor . Yahoo.com/money/women-bear-the-brunt-of-caring-for-aging-parents-nationwide-retirement-study
Area On Aging
The Bucks County Pennsylvania Area on Aging offers these statistics:
"Care Managers/ Givers spend on average $5000 out of their own pocket when caring for another individual."
"60% of Care Managers/Care Givers die before the person they are caring for."
"50% of Care Managers/Care Givers end up in depression."
It is important for data and information to be collected and presented on a regular basis in order to bring improvements and more resources to help those of us who are Caregivers of an Aging Parent or Loved one.
What is relevant about this information is it validates what you are feeling.
You are not alone! Your concerns are valid! You matter!
No, you do not have to loose yourself when accepting the responsibility of as a Caregiver.
Their life does not out weigh your own.
It is possible to become empowered and not overpowered by the Caregiver role.
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