April 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Caregivers Perform Heroic Deeds on a Daily Basis

Caregivers cross all boundaries. Though they may vary in gender, race, ethnicity and age, their common bond is the love, care and support they provide to those whose well-being they are charged with promoting, whether it be parent, spouse, sibling or friend. An informal caregiver is an unpaid individual (spouse, partner or family member) involved in helping others with activities of daily living. A formal caregiver is a paid care provider whether in the home, an adult day program or residential care. According to the National Alliance for Caregiving, 29 percent of the U.S. adult population provide care to someone who is ill, disabled or aged. Of these, 13.5 million adult caregivers care for someone 50 years of age and older, and 14.9 million care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

The physical and emotional toll to the caregiver can be debilitating. Added to that is the economic impact which can also be significant. Caregivers are subject to loss of wages and benefits. In fact, a reported 37 percent of caregivers quit their jobs and/or reduce their work hours.

We know that to truly be an effective caregiver, one must also take time for themselves. According to the National Alliance of Caregiving, 23 percent of family caregivers report their health to be “fair” or “poor.” About 40-70 percent of caregivers report significant symptoms of depression. In addition, when the caregiver struggles, it certainly has a negative impact on the person they are caring for as well.

There are resources which can also help caregivers to “recharge their batteries,” because caregiving is truly a marathon and not a sprint. For those families committed to keeping their loved one at home and providing them with stimulation outside the home, adult day services can be a valuable solution. While the primary goal is to provide a structured, stimulating day out for the care recipient, it is often the caregiver that benefits. They can take advantage of other support services available through the day care, in essence, having a “one stop shop” experience, and truly peace of mind knowing that their family member is being cared for by professional staff.

To help manage the emotional toll of caregiving, caregivers can also avail themselves of numerous support groups in the community. Alzheimer’s NJ sponsors support groups in different locations. One is held at the Jewish Home at Rockleigh, for caregivers caring for those with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias. Each group is led by a trained facilitator, and information and support is provided in a warm and supportive atmosphere.

Support can also come from others in the most unexpected way. At a recent support group, one of the members was having trouble with her hearing aid batteries. No sooner had she said that, another member reached for his wallet, took out a set of batteries and passed them to her. Through the smallest of gestures, it gave her the support she needed when she needed it. For more information on caregiver support, please contact (201)750-4238.

By Shelley Steiner, LSW

Shelley Steiner, LSW, is Director of the Gallen Adult Day Health Care Center.

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