Caregiving: A Burden or Gift? by Bob Lowry
I received the following press release about caregivers and those who are cared for. I found the results both encouraging and distressing. I welcome your reaction.
SAN FRANCISCO – October 31, 2016 – As part of November’s National Family Caregivers Month, Honor™ (www.joinhonor.com), the fast-growing tech-powered home care company, surveyed over 1,000 men and women ages 18 and older across the U.S. and found a surprising discrepancy in opinions and perspectives related to caring for aging loved ones.
The 2016 Honor Family Caregiving Survey revealed that age and experience have a strong impact on attitudes. In particular, a larger number of Americans within the consumer sampling who hadn’t yet been exposed to the caregiving process or personally tasked with the related responsibilities viewed caring for an older loved one as a “burden.”
This same group also expressed far greater concern over the financial impact of providing care. Ironically, those who were already deep in the trenches of a caregiving role viewed the experience as a “gift,” and were less concerned about cost implications, despite the potential toll on their career, financial security and other life responsibilities.
Family caregiver perspective:
● 21% believe caring for an aging loved one is a “gift”
● 6% believe it’s a “burden”
● 8% believe caring for an aging loved one is a “gift”
● 14% believe it’s a “burden”
Those who didn’t see caregiving as a gift or burden accepted the role as merely “a part of life.”
“Regardless of our current life stage and attitudes toward assuming a caregiver role, when that moment comes for us to provide long-term support to an aging parent or grandparent – many of us are simply unprepared,” said Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, Honor’s Head of Care.
“We asked men and women from all age groups and walks of life if they would be able to provide appropriate care if a loved one suddenly needed it, and nearly 57% said they could not. And, nearly 88% surveyed said it would be up to them — alone or with a sibling — to shoulder the responsibility. Collectively, these are sobering statistics given that our senior population will nearly double by the year 2030.”
Who Is Providing the Care?
40% of survey respondents serve, or have served, as a caregiver for a parent, grandparent or aging loved one. Among these caregivers:
● 10% are 18-29 years
● 25% are 30-44 years
● 31% are 45-59 years
● 34% are 60+ years
● 59% of family caregivers are women
● 41% of family caregivers are men
● 26% believe their career or professional life has suffered as a result of caring for a loved one
● 58% of these caregivers believe their loved one requires more care than they alone can provide
*Click here for survey graphics.
Among respondents who are not currently family caregivers, six out of 10 believe it’s likely they will play this important role in the future. But only 43% of non-caregivers believe they would be prepared to provide the appropriate care if a loved one suddenly needed assistance. Seventy-five percent would not be able to provide more than 20 hours of care per week.
Added Ellis-Lamkins: “We learned a lot from this consumer study about attitudes toward paid and unpaid care. When asked what the biggest consideration was when choosing care for a loved one, concern for a loved one’s happiness ranked the highest at 57% among experienced caregivers — well over concerns about the expense of care, which ranked at 7.9%. Also, ensuring trust and safety with the caregiver ranked as the single biggest source of worry, among all concerned, when it comes to bringing a new caregiver into the home.”
To help Americans become more informed about the caregiving process, here are three essential tips for family caregivers:
1) Create a caregiving plan that involves the recipient and other family members. Ninety-one percent surveyed indicated that their loved one would prefer to stay in their own home, if possible. Volunteers and paid professionals alike should always be appropriately vetted with a background check and provided with feedback after each visit to ensure that their care style and protocols are in sync with family member expectations.
2) Establish and maintain a relationship with your loved one’s medical team and share regular notes and communication to help keep them informed about care and wellness routines that take place in the home.
3) Remember that it is important to care for yourself too – prioritizing your own health will help you manage stress and, ultimately, be a more effective care provider.
To me, the most important finding was the shift in attitude after caregiving of a loved one began. The shift from “burden” to “gift” was encouraging.
Also quite obvious is the importance of preparing fully before that role becomes reality. I would expect that preparation and getting things in order would help lessen the feeling of care being a negative in one’s life.
If you have been, or are a caregiver for another, I would love your feedback. How do the results of the survey match your feelings and experiences? What can you share that would help the rest of us get ready for this situation?
Satisfying Retirement was provided with this information by the company involved. The blog was not compensated for its use, nor can independently verify the results. The material is provided for informational purposes only.
By Bob Lowry