November is National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM). Kupuna Care Hawaiʻi is proud to celebrate and recognize all those who have dedicated their time and effort to caring for their loved ones. The COVID-19 pandemic has especially hit hard for family caregivers, who have made tremendous sacrifices and focused their energy in order to keep their family members safe and healthy.
What is a family caregiver?
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, family caregiver (also referred to as an informal caregiver) is defined as any relative, partner, friend or neighbor who has a significant personal relationship with, and provides a broad range of assistance for, an older person or an adult with a chronic or disabling condition. These individuals may be primary or secondary caregivers and live with, or separately from, the person receiving care.
What does a family caregiver do?
The role of the family caregiver can be quite ambiguous or broad, especially when first stepping into their caregiver position. Their role can range anywhere from assisting with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), to providing direct care to the recipient, and even navigating the complex health care and social services system – but let's dive into the specifics.
While the responsibility of the family caregiver varies according to each individual, their role may include but is not limited to:
- Assisting with household tasks, self-care, mobility, and supervision
- Providing emotional and social support
- Health and medical care
- Advocacy and care coordination
- Decision making and surrogacy
What challenges do family caregivers face?
Some challenges that the family caregiver faces are:
- Difficulty with time management. In addition to working outside the home, either full-time or part-time, caregivers have families of their own. They must find time to care for their children along with caring for their parents, balancing their work and personal life, while also trying to take care of themself as well.
- Loss of work time and opportunities. Some tasks that seniors need help with (e.g. accompaniment to doctor appointments) often need to occur during the workday. Because of this, the family caregiver must take time off work in order to fulfill the needs of their loved one. This results in loss of career advancement opportunities and overall income.
- Financial costs and strains. Family caregivers typically pay out-of-pocket for their loved one’s expenses and these expenses usually turn out to be higher than they planned for, Items like food, gas, travel, medications and transportation cause them to dip into their own savings and retirement plans.
- Physical and emotional issues. Family caregivers report experiencing stress, sadness, anger, frustration, exhaustion and impaired physical well-being. The American Psychological Association reports that adults who care for multiple generations at once have weaker immune systems, more frequent headaches, and greater numbers of back problems than non-caregiving peers. They also report experiencing more depression and anxiety-related disorders.
Caregiving for your loved one is not always an easy task. It is both physically and mentally taxing and can take a toll on your health, especially when you continue to persevere despite your body and mind telling you that you need a break. We understand and we care, you are not alone.
Get Respite Care
Schedule your complimentary assessment with us at 808-202-2010