Why We Say Thanks to Family Caregivers

| By Jodi Horton

In hospice care, hospice workers and family caregivers work hand-in-hand to provide care to terminally ill individuals. Because hospice workers are not in the home 24 hours a day, we rely on the help of primary caregivers (usually family members) to care for our patients. Working together with these caregivers allows us to provide individuals with a peaceful end-of-life experience.

If that weren’t enough reason for us to be grateful to family caregivers, we found a few other reasons why family caregivers deserve a big thank you. To start, do you know how many people in this country deserve that big thank you? The answer is more than 65 million people, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. These 65 million people are providing care to the ill, the disabled, and the elderly.

How do you define a family caregiver? It depends on who you ask, but this one from the American Psychological Association is nice. A family caregiver is an individual who cares for someone else an average of 20 hours or more a week. He or she is usually unpaid, and providing assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, cooking, cleaning, and medical care assistance such as medication management.

Imagine the impact caregiving plays on a person’s life. Most family caregivers provide five years of unpaid care, and 61% of caregivers aged 50 and older are still employed! However, the majority of family caregivers have had to change how they work because of their caregiving duties. These accommodations could be a simple change in hours or as drastic as quitting their jobs, according to AARP’s Public Policy Institute.

Caregiving takes an emotional and physical toll on individuals, too. The CDC reports that caregivers struggle to balance care for others with care for themselves. They often put family members’ needs before their own, which can result in poorer overall health, a weaker immune system, and depression. But it’s not all bad. A study released last year said some caregivers might benefit from feelings of purpose and the service of giving back to someone they love.

If you or someone you know in Pima County could benefit from the support of hospice care, contact Casa de la Luz Hospice at (520) 544-9890 for further information.

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