November 11, 2020

Family Caregiving: One of the Toughest Jobs

By Mike Mathews
Graphic Design and Marketing Coordinator
Milestone’s Area Agency on Aging

Independence is something easily taken for granted. Most of us go through our daily lives with the notion that our most basic needs are will be easily met. Whether it’s getting out of bed in the morning, eating lunch, or even going to the bathroom, there are certain functions in life that often produce little stress and are seldomly given a second thought. Those in caring professions call these things activities of daily, or independent, living.

But what happens when caring for yourself requires assistance to remain safely at home and as independent as possible? In these times, our family caregivers become lifelines and heroes. November celebrates National Caregiver Month, honoring what may be one of the most challenging jobs there is.

According to The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months, with approximately one third providing care for a family member with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

Family caregivers spend an average of 24.4 hours per week providing care, with nearly 1 in 4 caregivers spending 41 hours or more per week. To help put this in context, caring for another can be the equivalent of a part-time to full-time (or more) job, and is often done in addition to regular employment. While some tasks like shopping, housekeeping, laundry, and transportation may seem more routine, other responsibilities can demand new skills such as food preparation for special diets and giving medication.

Caregiving can be exhausting, frustrating, and all-consuming. The need for outside support is natural and can, at times, become a necessity. Milestones Area Agency offers support and services for family caregivers. Family Caregiver Specialists can help with:

  • Information Assistance and Referrals: From locating a physician, to advanced treatment facilities, information assistance has proven to be a vital service.
  • Individual or Family Consultations: It is perfectly normally to have questions and speaking with a specialist can provide comfort and valuable guidance.
  • Support Groups: Caregivers are not alone. Joining a support group can be invaluable as a means to share coping strategies to feel more empowered and establish a sense of community.
  • Respite Care: Respite care provides short-term relief for primary caregivers. Respite care has proven to be an invaluable resource to offer often much-needed breaks for caretakers.

If you or someone you know needs information and resources to better care for family members age 60+ , contact Milestones Area Agency on Aging at 855-410-6222 (toll-free) or online at milestonesaaa.org.