Today’s family caregiver is met with increasing demands and caregiver stress as they care for aging parents or other loved ones. The role of caregiver requires a shift that not only affects their day-to-day activities as they adapt to meet the needs of their care recipient, but caregivers report that they dramatically alter long-range goals and plans, as well.
According to a study, Evercare/National Alliance for Caregiving Study of Caregivers — What They Spend, What They Sacrifice, caregivers reported they were spending on average 35.4 hours a week caring for their loved ones, with 19 percent providing care for more than three years and 32 percent caregiving for more than five years.
To accommodate the caregiving time and expenses they had, study respondents were making the following sacrifices:
- Cutting back on leisure activities (49 percent) and vacations (47 percent)
- Saving less or not at all for their children’s future (38 percent);
- Using their savings (34 percent);
- Cutting back on basics such as clothing, utilities or transportation (27 percent) and groceries (25 percent); and,
- Cutting back on personal medical or dental expenses (23 percent).
Here’s an interesting observation from a study participant that will relate to you: “Time is the most expensive commodity I provide – but it has no price tag,” one caregiver wrote in a diary. Despite the sacrifice, caregivers also said it was a commitment they made willingly.
In addition to financial restrictions, study respondents reported on the personal and emotional impact which includes:
- Heightened stress or anxiety (65 percent);
- Difficulty sleeping (49 percent);
- Increased financial worries (43 percent);
- Depression or hopelessness (37 percent), and
- New or worsening health problems (26 percent).
Family caregiving is a role that takes strategy, planning, and compromise. Additionally, the emotional and physical toll on the family caregiver requires a pre-planned approach to respite care and the utilization of support groups and back up plans for caregiving. The Alzheimer’s Association offers excellent resources and additional information.
Click here for more information on the “Evercare/NAC Study of Caregivers: What They Spend, What They Sacrifice” .
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