Caregiving is an important public health issue that affects the quality of life for millions of individuals and families. In 1997 the White House designated November as National Family Caregivers Month to honor the more than 50 million caregivers across the country who support aging parents, ill spouses, children, or other disabled loved ones who remain at home.
Providing care for an aged or disabled loved one is a growing need in the U.S. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, 65.7 million Americans are serving as family caregivers for an ill or disabled relative. That represents nearly one third of U.S. households. In Texas, recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data reflects that one in five adults in our state are family caregivers.
The Toll on Caregivers
According to a 2020 AARP/NAC report, more than 60% of family caregivers also manage a job or career while meeting the needs of loved ones in their care. Although 51% of family caregivers feel their role gives them a sense of meaning or purpose, over 1/3 of caregivers find their role highly stressful emotionally. Nearly one in five also reported experiencing significant financial strain.
Another growing concern is the isolation that many caregivers experience. A recent study by the AARP showed that one in 11 caregivers had no one talk to about their feelings and stressors, while one in five felt they had no one to call for help or relief.
Caring for Family Caregivers
Caregivers should seek support and maintain their own health to help them manage their well-being. Caregiver burnout can result in exhaustion, depression, irritability, a weakened immune system, digestive problems, headaches, pains, and weight gain. It is common for compassion, understanding, and patience to become very challenging, and for caregivers to feel physically and emotionally exhausted. All of these factors have an impact on the caregiver’s mental health and functioning. If you or a caregiver in your life is in need of support, please consider seeking professional help.
For caregivers, it can be difficult to find the time for self-care. Having a break from the caregiving role, or respite care, provides temporary relief for a primary caregiver, enabling them to take a much-needed break from the demands of caring for a sick, aging, or disabled family member. It is not selfish to need time for themselves, especially if they are feeling overwhelmed by the multiple tasks required by caregivers.
Having a respite or break can help caregivers feel more energetic, focused, and reconnected to their caregiving role. Realizing that you’re not alone and obtaining help and support is crucial for caregiver renewal.
If you or someone you love is experiencing the challenges of caregiving for a family member or other loved one, please contact Lone Star Circle of Care at 887-800-5722 to schedule an appointment with a primary care provider who can refer you to a Lone Star Circle of Care Behavioral Health provider. Compassionate and knowledgeable professionals are available to provide encouragement and knowledge about respite resources and emotional support.
Blog post written by Harry Livesay, LCSW-S
Lone Star Circle of Care
American Association of Retired Persons (2019, October 3). November is National Family Caregivers Month. Aarp.org. Retrieved October 25, 2023, from https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/home-care/info-2019/national-family-caregivers-month.html
HelpGuide.org (2023, October 4). What is respite care? Retrieved October 25, 2023, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/caregiving/respite-care.htm
U.S. Centers for Disease Control (2019, August 7). Caregiving for Family and Friends — A Public Health Issue. Cdc.gov. Retrieved October 25, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/aging/caregiving/caregiver-brief.html
U.S. Centers for Disease Control (2021, August 31). Texas: Caregiving. Cdc.gov. Retrieved October 25, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/aging/data/infographic/2019/texas-caregiving.html
Wei , M., MD. JD (2018). Self-care for the caregiver. Harvard Health Blog. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/self-care-for-the-caregiver-2018101715003