Today’s caregivers are a diverse group—aged anywhere from 18 to 80…male and female…married and single… in school, working and retired. Whether caring for an aging parent, an ill spouse or disabled child, however, the nation’s estimated 43 million caregivers all share one thing in common: Learning how to cope with their changing and challenging role, usually on their own.
If you are a caregiver, or know someone who is, you probably realize that caregivers now provide more intense and complex care than ever before. You may perform medical/nursing tasks such as managing and distributing multiple medications, often on different schedules; dealing with dementia, incontinence and other issues; preparing special diets and more. According to an April 2019 Report from AARP and others, your loved one may also suffer from multiple health conditions, often causing pain and other unpleasant symptoms, and compounding your responsibilities.
The result is that many caregivers report being stressed, not knowing what to do and being fearful of making a mistake, especially with pain medication. Not surprisingly, many also report symptoms of isolation and depression.
With November earmarked as National Caregiver’s Month, it’s time to recognize the roles and responsibilities assumed by the ranks of unpaid caregivers in our midst, and to remind them of how we can help.
Because you do not need to face this on your own.
At Capital Caring Health, our goal is to share your load and lift your spirits through direct help, information and resources. Each and every day, we support caregivers just like you throughout our communities in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. Read on to see what we can do for you.
Profile of a Caregiver
The “typical” family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman, taking care of an elderly parent. However, one in four millennials (aged 18-35) and 40 percent of men are also caregivers, according to AARP.
For many, caregiving is a labor of love: almost half of family caregivers are adult children caring for their parents, and about one in five are wives or husbands caring for their spouses. In fact—as one of the oldest and largest nonprofit providers of advanced illness (palliative) and hospice care in the country—we often hear how caring for a loved one is a precious experience, thanks to the amount and quality of time spent together during the last stages of life.
Yet no matter who you help, or what their age or condition, chances are your role has affected you. Caregivers are largely alone in learning how to perform the tasks needed to manage complex care. One in five said they had no one to turn to for help.
In addition, there’s often a physical and emotional toll. Caregiving for terminally ill patients averages about 80 hours a week and may fall hardest on the spouse who is often elderly or in poor health, as well. And, the stress of day-to-day care, plus the anxiety of knowing a whole way of being is about to end, can be overwhelming.
Getting the Help You Need
Capital Caring Health’s advanced illness (palliative care) and hospice programs are designed to make a difference in your life as you care for someone with a life-limiting condition. Our multidisciplinary team provides physical, emotional and spiritual support to both of you, allowing you to focus on what’s most important. In the process, we also help you maintain your own health and wellbeing as you care for another.
Since caregivers are a diverse group, our programs are equally diverse and flexible to accommodate different needs. For instance, we offer a range of services, including:
- A team of doctors, nurses, home health aides, social workers, chaplains, counselors and volunteers to help care for your loved one and support you in your efforts
- Education and training to boost your abilities and build up your confidence in providing care
- Providing durable medical supplies and other aids to address symptom and pain management, including hospital beds, oxygen equipment and supplies, medications and more
- Counseling and guidance for caregivers, patients and families through Capital Caring Health’s Point of Hope team
- On-call support so you can reach expert help whenever you need it, 24/7
- Short-term respite care (up to five days) for caregivers of hospice patients who may be temporarily unavailable to provide care or need a break from caregiving
In addition, our licensed clinical social workers and professional counselors provide emotional and pastoral care through individual and family sessions, phone support, support groups and workshops covering topics such as:
- You and Your Aging Parent
- Loss of Control
- Staying Connected with Loved Ones
- Spiritual Questions
Lastly, we maintain an online resource library to help you during your journey, including:
- A comprehensive, detailed guide on hospice care and advanced illness care with useful tips, including understanding when it might be the right time to talk to your doctor about next steps
- Condition specific information on what to watch for and when a more intense level of care might be needed for a variety of illnesses, including:
- Congestive heart failure
- Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia
- Neurological conditions and stroke
- Lung disease, including COPD and
- Other serious, life-limiting conditions
- Guides for caregivers including:
- Caregiver’s Guide – Hospice
- Caregiver’s Guide – Dementia
- Caregiver’s Guide – How to Talk to your Parent’s Doctor
- Caregiver’s Guide – Taking Care of Elderly Parents
In the end, there may be no more important—or daunting—role than that of being a caregiver for someone you love. With Capital Caring Health at your side, you can rest assured that there’s the right support available for you, delivered with expert care and compassion.