There may be no more challenging role in life than serving as a family caregiver. And there may be no more vital job in our society than being a family caregiver.
In the last five years, more than 40 million family caregivers worked 37 billion hours caring for their loved ones.
The value of family care over that five-year period is estimated at $470 billion. For the most part, that’s $470 billion of unpaid labor, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance.
While there are a number of qualified agencies and businesses in place to help families and family caregivers, without this unpaid labor force, the system would simply crash.
While the bulk of caring for elderly loved ones or other family members that need support comes from family members, assistance coming from outside agencies is also critical to the system.
The biggest obstacle in getting help from outside is hesitance.
Many family caregivers feel a sense of responsibility and often consider it a failure on their part to ask for help.
They may believe they are in this by themselves.
Often, a request for help may be seen by the caregiver as a sign of weakness. After all, in their minds this is their task. They believe it is their responsibility to care for those who cared for them in the past.
In some cases, they may also not be aware that help even exists outside the family.
If a family caregiver does not ask for help – if they do not take the opportunity for respite – they may soon no longer be able to function in their role.
Help can come in many forms.
From Palm Aging Life Management, assistance can include care coordination and advocacy, developing assessments and care plans, crisis intervention, relocation assistance and much more. And because of our involvement in the community, we can also be a resource for finding other qualified professionals to help families.
In all cases, it takes a first step. It starts with the family caregiver recognizing that they cannot and should not be doing all this on their own. It takes requesting help and getting some care for the caregiver.