We often send flowers when our friends or family members experience a tragic event. Sometimes support is extended as well. Once the flowers have died, the support people also tend to fade away as they return to their own lives, leaving the family alone with their new role as caregivers. People usually respond to someone just after a tragic event with a rush of psychological support, and then as time moves on the caregivers are left alone with their loved one and begin to face the realities of their new and additional roles.
Caregiving often has a negative economic and health impact on the individual who is providing the care along with their family. The following statistics about caregivers are startling.
According to Caregiver Action Network:
- More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one. (Caregiving in the United States; National Alliance for Caregiving in collaboration with AARP; November 2009)
- The value of the services family caregivers provide for “free,” when caring for older adults, is estimated to be $375 billion a year. That is almost twice as much as is actually spent on homecare and nursing home services combined ($158 billion). (Evercare Survey of the Economic Downturn and Its Impact on Family Caregiving; National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare. March 2009)
- 47% of working caregivers indicate an increase in caregiving expenses has caused them to use up ALL or MOST of their savings.(Evercare Survey of the Economic Downturn and Its Impact on Family Caregiving;
- National Alliance for Caregiving and Evercare. March 2009)
- Family caregivers experiencing extreme stress have been shown to age prematurely. This level of stress can take as much as 10 years off a family caregiver’s life. (Elissa S. Epel, Dept of Psychiatry, Univ of Calif, SF, et al, From the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dec 7, 2004, Vol 101, No. 49.)
There is support and valuable information available for caregivers. Family Caregivers Unite! offers valuable information for caregivers. Dr. Gordon Atherley founded the social media project, Family Caregivers Unite! in 2010. He uses his live internet talk radio show to connect with caregivers and share information about a range of caregiving topics related to veterans, caring for elders with dementia, and recovery from addiction to only name a few.
Click here to check out the radio show and much needed support provided for caregivers by Dr. Atherley and Family Caregivers Unite!.