Caregivers play a significant role in healthcare. The way they care for others as well as themselves influences how health services are fulfilled. Currently, caregivers are plagued with challenges and issues that need to be addressed.
At present, there are 65.7 million informal and family caregivers in the United States who are caring for someone who is sick, disabled, or aged. Also, there are more than four million direct care workers who are most likely involved in caregiving, too. Seventy million caregivers mean 70 million voices. This is a call-out we could not ignore.
Looking ahead to the year 2050, people needing long-term care (and caregivers, too) will have doubled to 27 million, and the demand for people who will tend to their needs will also increase drastically.
If you are a caregiver, you might share some top caregiver issues and concerns below:
In a survey, 84% of caregivers expressed concerns about their personal health. In fact, a fifth of those who have been doing caregiving for more than five years report that their health is fair or poor. Caregiving is a demanding job. Sleep deprivation is fairly common, due to several reasons: the physical demands of the job are too much, the need to wake up during the wee hours of the night is a part of the responsibility, and there is anxiety caused by their concern for their family member's health condition. Caregivers usually cannot prepare nutritious foods for themselves, nor can they eat on time. Caregivers also feel too tired to get proper exercise. Furthermore, caregivers could not tend to their own physical ailments because they prioritize caring for their family member.
NOT HAVING ENOUGH RESPITE CARE
In a study, 83% of the caregiver respondents claimed that they are not getting enough respite care. When caregiving knows no break or holiday to have some relaxation and to ‘reset' oneself, the stress of the job builds up and takes its toll on the caregiver.
About 20% of caregivers report that they undergo very high physical strain. Physical stress is overwhelming especially among high-burden caregivers or those who perform the most number of ADLs (activities of daily living) and IADLs (instrumental activities of daily living) for long periods of time, those caring for patients with dementia and long-term illnesses, and those caregivers who have been doing the job for more than a year.
EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL STRESS
Four out of ten caregivers report that their job is highly stressful, and 25% say that they find the job moderately stressful. Caregiving brings out many negative emotions; the highest reported in a study is the feeling of isolation. Caregivers also feel anger, frustration, irritability, and depression. Due to time constraints and the demands of the responsibility, caregivers find themselves not being able to socialize anymore, creating an unending loop of emotional chaos that leads to self-pity.
A lot of informal caregivers find themselves dealing with financial challenges. Caregivers may use most of their savings to keep up with their family member's health expenses. Their employment is also severely affected, or worse, they either quit their job or get fired because of their caregiving responsibilities. They could not meet their monthly financial needs. Furthermore, financial support is hard to find.
LACK OF RESOURCES
Many caregivers feel that if only they have the right information, they can care for their family member better. Visits to the physician do not answer all their questions. Some think that their concern is too trivial and too time-consuming to be addressed properly. Another concern is that caregivers do not know where to get helpful information. Lack of support groups and other community resources adds to the feeling of helplessness.
Formal caregivers or those working in facilities and homes also raise concerns of their own, including physical and emotional stress, and declining physical health over time brought about by the demands of the job. Formal caregivers also feel that they have an uncertain career path. At work, they note a lack of oversight, training, and personal growth. They are overworked yet underappreciated; worse, they are often the victims of workplace bullying.
Asking a caregiver about their top job-related issues and concerns will return lots of answers, but the above points are the most common to the majority. The caregivers' collective voice must be heard, and their problems must raise awareness so that in the future when the demand for caregiver services rises, solutions are already in place to address these challenges.
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