The Caregiver Stress Problem

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 10,257
    Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care, provides some tips on avoiding caregiver burnout. In this video, she will show you that you are not alone when it comes to facing the challenges of being a family caregiver.

    Mary Alexander: Hi! I am Mary Alexander from Home Instead Senior Care, and today I am talking about avoiding caregiver burnout. In this video, I will show you that you are not alone when it comes to facing the challenges of being a family caregiver.

    According to the U.

    S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 50 million people provide care for chronically ill, disabled, or aging family member or friend during any given year.

    30% of caregivers are themselves aged 65 or over. Another 15% are between the ages of 45-54. While there is no reliable estimate of the number of family caregivers, at least 7 million Americans are caring for a parent at any given time. If you are a woman watching this video, it comes as no surprise, the National Alliance for Caregiving found that the typical family caregiver is a 46-year-old woman caring for her widowed mother who does not live with her. She is married and employed. In fact, approximately 60% of caregivers are women.

    As the American boomer population ages, the need for caregivers will increase in the years ahead. People over the age of 65 are expected to increase at a 2.

    3% rate, but the number of family members available to care for them will only increase by less than 1%. That is expected to result in added stress on the family caregiver, who simply might not have others to help them with caregiving duties. Already, millions of working adults are juggling the competing demands of caring for a chronically ill or disabled parent, raising a family and managing a career. Working caregiver sacrifice leisure time and often suffer stress related illness.

    Negative effects on working caregivers include time lost from work, lower productivity, quitting a job to give care, lost career opportunities, and lower future earnings.

    According to a recent study done by Home Instead Senior Care, caregivers comprise about 13% of the workforce. Nearly 20% of family caregivers are providing 40 hours of care a week or more. As a result, some 10% have to go from full-time to part-time jobs because of their caregiving responsibilities. All of this is having a negative effect on wages. The American Council of Life Insurers found that during the year 2000, the typical working family caregiver lost a $109 per day in wages and health benefits due to the need to provide full-time care. Eventually, some 12% of caregivers quit their jobs to provide care full-time. The MetLife Mature Market Institute found that American businesses can lose as much as 34 billion each year due to employees' needs to care for senior loved ones. Both male and female children of aging parents make changes at work in order to accommodate caregiving responsibilities. That includes modifying their schedules, coming in late or leaving early, or altering work-related travel.

    Although, hard research does not exists to prove it, researchers in the field think that only 2% of employed family caregivers actually take advantage of the benefits their companies offer.

    So let's talk about some common employee support programs, so you can learn if they are available through your employer.

    First, some employers offer Cafeteria-Style Employee Benefits, which allow employees to select supplemental dependent care coverage to reimburse costs for in-home care or adult daycare. Benefits might also cover therapeutic counseling for the employee to help cope with the stresses of family caregiving.

    Human Resource or Employee Assistance Program staff can provide information on helpful Internet sites, local information, and referral services or resource centers.

    Some larger businesses organize in-house caregiver support groups or coordinate with local community groups or hospitals, so that employees can attend an outside support group.

    One of the most critical benefits for an employee with caregiving responsibilities is time. Flexible work hours, family illness days, and leave time are necessary. So be sure to ask if you can modify your own work schedule to accommodate your family caregiving needs.

    If you work for a company that has 50 or more employees, it must comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act, also known as FMLA, which allows for up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a seriously ill parent, spouse, or child, while protecting job security.

    Some smaller firms also use the FMLA guidelines to provide support for individual employees. It's important that you take the time to learn what is offered by your employer. Doing so could alleviate some of your stress.

    Speaking of stress, in the next video we will talk about some of the physical and emotional signs that show you are overstressed.