The last time you were on an airplane, the flight attendant showed you the oxygen masks that are available in case of an emergency.
Remember the advice?
“If you’re sitting next to a young child, take the mask for yourself first, next help the child!”
The attendant didn’t want you to make the same mistake so many caregivers do: taking care of everyone except for themselves.
In more than three of every 10 households, at least one member in the home is a caregiver, caring for someone who can’t fully take care of himself or herself. More than half of the nation’s caregivers are women and many are children. The average caregiver spends more than 40 hours a week caring for a loved one and provides an estimated $110,000 in services each year.
Taking care of an ill or aging loved one can become a full-time job.
Many are using their hard-earned savings to cover the skyrocketing cost of providing care.
The financial impact can be devastating to say the least. Many families are taking second mortgages, canceling vacation, and doing whatever they can to make sure their loved ones get their medications, medical supplies, etc. The survey also found that more than half of caregivers who were caring for someone 50 years old or older were spending, on average, more than 10 percent of their annual income to do so — an average of $5,531 per year.
Beyond the financial burden, caring for an ill or aging loved one also can be emotionally overwhelming and stressful. This can take its toll on the caregiver’s health. A domino effect can lead to health problems for the caregiver that will impact his or her ability to provide care.
Caregivers become so engaged in caring for their loved ones they sometimes neglect their own physical, mental and spiritual needs.
Many of us are a part of the “sandwich generation” — in our 50s or 60s sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren, or in our 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.
When taking care of a loved one, you tend to put them first. Usually, it’s a parent, and most of us think that our parents sacrificed so much for us that it’s now our turn to make the sacrifices.
That may be true in a sense, but you still need to remember to care for yourself.
What can be done to stop this swirling decline?
There are ways to relieve the burden.
Home care counselors at Safe at Home Healthcare are available to talk with you about your in-home care needs including how to reduce caregiver stress while providing better, affordable care, including live-in care. We are an elder care agency providing Home Care in Naperville.