The Sacrifice and Commitment of a Family Caregiver

Jackie Bedard
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“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched—they must be felt with the heart.”

—Helen Keller

 

The call comes. It’s midnight, or it’s 2:00 in the afternoon just as you are getting ready to pick the kids up at school, or just as you are getting ready to leave for an important business trip. The call comes unexpectedly. Mom fell and broke her hip. Dad took a drive and hasn’t come home yet. The neighbor tells you there is three days’ worth of mail on the porch, Mom answered the door disheveled and confused, and the smell from the house was awful—the neighbor called 911. And, oh, your parents live 850 miles away. 

After the shock of the news sinks in, you are thinking, “How quickly can I get there? What will it cost? And what do I have to do to make sure that work, the kids, and the family are all taken care of here?” Then you think, “I didn’t know there was a problem; things weren’t this bad; why is this happening now?”

Welcome to the world of a caregiver. A story like this is the beginning of becoming a family caregiver. A family caregiver is an unpaid non-professional who is caring for a family member or friend who is ill or has a disability and cannot live independently. There are 65.7 million caregivers in the United States. The average age of caregivers is 48 years. Although, of those caring for someone aged 50+, the average age of family caregivers is between 50 and 64. A study shows that 64% of caregivers were employed at some point in the last 12 months, and on average, caregivers spend 20.4 hours per week providing care. Although for many, when the diagnosis involves Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, caregiving is a 24-hour responsibility.

There are so many things to consider when you embark on the journey as a caregiver. For some, to begin that journey will be an easy decision. For others, it is filled with obstacles. Being a caregiver can require putting your own life on hold.  A caregiver has to suddenly deal with emotional and lifestyle factors like financial issues, work commitments, fear of getting involved, lack of information, and lack of resources and support.

Free Caregiver's Guide:

Solid legal and financial planning is critical for a loved one with long-term care needs. Download our free Caregiver’s Guide to learn the critical information you need to know about caring for your loved one.