Labor Day is celebrated this upcoming Monday. Labor Day is the federal holiday that honors workers across America. I have been a family caregiver. I own an agency that provides assistance to family caregivers. I want to honor family and professional caregivers across America on this Labor Day. I know that caregiving is a labor of love.
The Caregiving Sandwich
As our parent’s age, adult children frequently find themselves as caregivers on both ends of the spectrum. They are providing caregiving in their own home and now providing caregiving and support to aging parents. This is frequently called “sandwich caregiving”. They are driving kids to school and activities and driving mom to doctor’s appointments. They are making sure dinner is prepared or secured for their household and taking meals to their aging in-laws. They are shopping for groceries for their household and picking up groceries for their aging father that no longer drives. They are taking the family dog to the vet and picking up medicine from the neighborhood pharmacy for their parents. They are picking up dry cleaning for their household and dropping by their elderly aunt’s home to do some laundry.
Challenges of Family Caregiving
One of the biggest challenges with aging family members is that they resist help from non-family members. So even seniors with the financial means to hire help, sometimes choose to do without required assistance and to wait for an overburdened family member or friend to help them.
Senior caregiving is more than just providing hands on care, running errands and performing tasks. It includes, but is not limited to other things like medication management, care coordination, and advocacy.
Adult children who may no longer have children residing in their house and are slightly older, in their 50s, 60s, or early 70s, may now be providing assistance to their adult children and grandchildren while tending to the needs for their own parents in their 80s, 90s or who are now centenarians.
Family Caregiving Will Continue to Grow
Currently, nearly 10,000 baby boomers a day turn 65 years old. This is going to continue for next 30 years. The United States population that is over 65 years of age will grow from just under 50 million to nearly 90-100 million in the next 30-40 years! These numbers will continue to have a significant impact on family caregiving. They will continue to have a significant impact on mothers and women.
Caregiving by the Numbers
Here is what we know now: Nearly 70 percent of all caregiving is performed by family members. Nearly 70 million individuals are currently providing care at some level to family members.
Typical Caregivers Profile
The typical senior family caregiver is a woman, age 49 years. She is married and is employed full-time or part-time outside the home. Forty (40) percent of them have children or grandchildren under 18, who reside with them. Those that do not have children or grandchildren living with them still are intimately involved with assisting their children and grandchildren that do not live with them.
Adult Children Leave the Workforce to be Caregivers
There is documentation that many adult children, especially women leave the work force in order to provide caregiving to family members.
Our StaffLink office has first-hand experience with this phenomenon. Last spring, at female office employee with StaffLink, suddenly left the office one day due to a family crisis. Her disabled brother had been involved in an accident. She left that day to never return to our office. She became the full-time caregiver, care manager, and advocate for her brother. She had been employed with us for 26 years. She had not planned to stop working, nor could she have predicted the crisis that would draft her into full-time caregiving. Since his health crisis she has moved him into her home. She is the single mother of six adult children and a grandmother.
The Value of Family Caregiving and providing a Labor of Love
Caregiving is demanding. Caregiving needs can be unpredictable. Unfortunately, caregiving is generally underappreciated and undervalued. It should not be underappreciated or undervalued. Unpaid family caregiving hours are actually valued at around $200-400 billion dollars a year in the United States. Yes, I said billion.
Caregivers frequently neglect their physical health and financial health. Neglecting either your financial or physical health will have long term effects on one’s future.
Family Caregivers Should Practice Self-Care
So as a family caregiver and a business owner who hires and places professional caregivers to provide families with assistance, I encourage all caregivers to practice of self-care. (See our post here for 25 self-care tips for caregivers) Self-care is required self-maintenance for any caregiver that is going to be a compassionate and competent family or professional caregiver. Caregiving is indeed a labor of love! Happy Labor Day 2021!
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- StaffLink Seeks to Hire Additional In-home Caregivers in St. Louis Region - October 6, 2022