Do you shop for an older adult? Take someone to the doctor? Help with bill paying, gardening, house cleaning? Provide personal care? If you do any of these for a family member, neighbor or friend, you are a caregiver.
According to a recent study by AARP, there are an estimated 44.4 million caregivers age 18 and older in the U.S. (almost 1 in 4 adults). Many caregivers work full or part-time (59%) and most are also caring for their own families. These caregivers provide an average of 21 hours of unpaid care per week, for an average of 4.3 years. AARP estimates the value of this unpaid care to be $350 billion a year.
Caregiving can start out with a single simple task, such as grocery shopping, but often grows as the needs of the care recipient grow with advancing age and frailty (either mental or physical). This takes a toll on the caregiver, both physically and emotionally. A recent study by Evercare found that over half of the caregivers reported moderate to severe worsening of their health, and that the severity increased with the number of hours of care and tasks performed. Over 90 percent reported depression and increased stress. 82% reported problems with sleep, 63% worse eating habits, and 58% less exercise. More than half neglect their own preventive health care.
Many caregivers do not identify themselves as caregivers, seeing themselves simply as caring family members fulfilling their duties. They do not seek help with the tasks they undertake or support from peers or professionals. Sadly, too many caregivers get into trouble physically, emotionally or financially before they seek help, which also puts their care recipient at greater risk.
Nearly 7 million families are providing care at a distance, where they may not know the available resources, have trouble following day-to-day developments and add travel to the challenges of providing care.
The following services are available to caregivers of all ages through the Princeton Senior Resource Center’s Caregiver Resource Center. For more information, call 924-7108.
Available at our offices at Spruce Circle and 45 Stockton Street, Princeton
For more information, click here for the Caregiver Resouce pages.