Caregivers’ statistics that will boggle your mind.
- Thirty-five million Americans are full time caregivers
- 50% of full time caregivers are doing it on their own
- Most caregivers have no prior medical or caregiving training that can help them to understand the magnitude of what they will face
Doctor Oz recently focused on The Caregiver’s Guide to Health in which he talked with a woman who was a caregiver to her elderly father. In this short piece he directed the talk around Janine’s life and how caregiving was actually making her sick. It suddenly became real to the world; caregiver’s illness became a term.
The term refers to the fact that, as caregivers, people tend to focus fully on the loved one they are caring for and ignoring their own health. In summarization, because they focus on their loved one’s health and well-being they don’t take time to take care of themselves.
Risk Factors for Caregiver’s Illness
- Lack of Sleep – Many times as a caregiver, your loved one needs so much of your time that even when they are sleeping caregivers tend to stay awake, making preparations for more caregiving. Often your loved one will sleep during the day and be up at night, causing havoc with your own sleep schedule.
- Stress – anyone dealing with someone who is in need of caregiving is under stress; but, when the person who needs attending to is a loved one it becomes very real and very personal. Suddenly you are no longer just their “wife” or “husband” or “child” but also their full time caregiver.
- Lack of Focus & Organization – because this is all new, caregiver’s tend to be unable to focus and organize the many facets of their life. Dr. Oz provides a very helpful checklist for caregivers. It not only teaches you to prioritize but focuses on helping you to choose areas that you can let go of having to do it all on your own.
- Guilt/Need to Do It All Themselves – caregivers tend to love the person they are caregiving for so much that they literally guilt themselves into thinking that they have to do everything for them. Usually, they feel that if they don’t have complete control and do everything themselves they’ve failed their loved one or it won’t be done right. The truth is, letting go of some things and accepting help from caregivers, can literally remove most of the risk factors we’ve listed.
You are not alone when it comes to taking on the job of a full time caregiver. One of the first steps to making sure you are there for the one you love is realizing that caregivers are available and affordable to step in and help. This first step will allow YOU to take care of YOUR own health.
Don’t literally make yourself sick by taking it all on yourself. Your loved one would never want you to let your own health diminish because of them. It’s time to accept you are only human and you deserve to be healthy. It’s time to ask for help.
Photo by British Red Cross.