She scurries back into the house to spoon-feed one more before leaving for her part-time job. After wiping his hands and face, she kisses his nose, helps him into the car, buckles him in, and drives him to daycare. Hugging him, she promises, “I’ll pick you up at lunchtime, Dad.” With a vacant look in his eyes he asks, “But what about breakfast?”
Terry is one of the 54 million Americans caring for a family member. Over 40% of families who provide care for an elder have children at home under the age of eighteen. Seventy-five percent of caregivers are women. Part of the “sandwich generation,” many will spend more years caring for a parent than they will raising a child. Not only are they ministering to their parents and children, many are caring for their children’s children. From 1990-2000, the number of kids living with grandparents increased 30%.
It’s no wonder caregivers often experience troublesome feelings such as depression, resentment, worry, helplessness, exhaustion, guilt, anger, and sadness with reversal of parent-child roles. Caregiving depletes a person not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually. In fact :
But when caregivers care for themselves, these statistics and severe emotions can be drastically reduced. Because 25% of the world population is caring for someone, we all know a person in a caregiving role.
These small efforts to care for the caregiver create a win/win/win situation. Your relationship with the in-home caregiver will flourish; the family member will receive care from a happier, healthier caregiver; and that caregiver will feel cared for, too—a much needed and overdue reward.
LeAnn Thieman is coauthor of Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul and a nationally acclaimed Speaker Hall of Fame, author and nurse. To learn more caregiving service issues, her books or presentations see www.LeAnnThieman.com.
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