So much attention gets paid to the stress and emotional toll caregiving can take, but what about the physical side?
The stress of caregiving often puts strains on families and relationships, not to mention the toll it takes on someone’s health. But here’s the thing, you’re not alone in this.
More than 42 million U.S. families, that is, 21 percent of households, experience daily limitations caring for a dependent adult. The economic value of these unpaid contributions is more than $500 billion, which is up from $375 billion in 2007.
Most of us have at least one or two caregivers in our lives. As the holidays arrive and gift lists are being made, we often come at a loss when we need to think of an appropriate gift for caregivers.
For caregivers already under physical, emotional, and financial stress, a situation can become even direr when the person you care for has mobility challenges that make it difficult for them to get around.
When we get to our 50s or 60s, many of us become long-distance caregivers. For us, the holidays often provide an opportunity to visit elderly parents or other relatives and check in on how they’re doing.
We rarely take time to dwell on this, but at some future point, many of us will need assistance as physical disabilities, chronic illness, frailty, or dementia take hold.
It happens every time: I come to a senior assisted living facility to do a workshop on telling life stories. I enter a room filled with seniors in varying degrees of ability. Some are in wheelchairs, some have caregivers, some clearly can’t hear or see very well.
In the past months, I have been navigating the rough and turbulent waters of dementia, trying to cope with the changes I observe in my mother’s behavior.