Family caregiving for adults over age 50 is a growing field. Estimates state that 34.5 million American family members have taken on this unpaid part/full-time job. (Actually, for many, it is a labor of love.)
The majority of these caregivers are women – 66%. Average age is 49 years old. Typically, the caregivers have a job outside their home, yet still spend about 20 hours per week providing care. Most are married or living with a partner. Many are ill-prepared for the tasks they take on, learning as they go. Also, many overtax themselves and put their own physical, mental and/or emotional well-being at risk.
The demands for family caregivers will continue to grow in future years. The big reason, the senior population over the age of 65 is expected to increase at a rate higher than the pool of family members available to care for them.
Caregiving starts with love and a sense of duty. Here are some other critical character traits listed on Caregiver.com that can help lead to success, or survival, or hope.
- Strong & Resilient Backbone – The ability to fight the mental and emotional battles. Also, the physical backbone often comes into play.
- Tenacity – Tied to backbone, caregivers have to have the drive to keep going.
- Flexible Goals – As the situation changes, the caregiver may have to adjust their objectives.
- Can Blow Off Steam – Has the ability to vent and recharge, even in a short amount of time.
- Ability To Laugh – Can find, or even create, reasons to laugh.
- Networked – Willing to work with a team and delegate to others.
- Can Forgive – Blame and guilt are no-no’s.
Giving A Safer Lift
Often, caregivers are put in a position to shoulder the physical weight of the person in their care. They may have to lift or transfer a loved one from one position to another. Or they may be needed to provide support and stability, or prevent a fall.
While performing these tasks, they often put their own body, especially their back, at risk. Here are some suggestions for giving a safer lift.
- Follow fundamental lifting and transfer techniques that maximize the use of balance and leverage.
- Install grab rails in bathrooms and hallways.
- Utilize assisting equipment.
- Toilet seat risers.
- Shower bench or chair.
- Gait belt.
- Transfer board.
(Sources: Caregiver.com, Caregiver.org, AgingCare.com, Help4Seniors.org)