November is National Family Caregivers Month – a time to thank, support, educate and empower family caregivers.
During this month we’re reminded, however, that caregivers are struggling to cope with the rigorous demands of caring for family members or friends with chronic illnesses.
More than 65 million people, a full 29% of the U.S. population, care for someone who is chronically ill, disabled, or aged, and they spend an average of 20 hours per week performing their duties. Those responsible for Alzheimer’s patients have an incredibly demanding task.
Alzheimer’s caregiver stress is at an all-time high. More than 60% rate their emotional stress as high or very high, and one-third report symptoms of depression.
Alzheimer’s caregivers also report a negative impact on their employment and finances. Some are forced to change from full-time to part-time jobs or stop working completely. Others fear losing their jobs due to repeated requests for time off to handle unexpected situations requiring their attention.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to alleviate the stress and other negative consequences of caregiving. Perhaps the single most important thing is to ask for help with your caregiving duties. People want to help – they just don’t know what to do. As I’ve said many times in this blog, be prepared with specific requests for the next time someone asks if they can do anything for you.
For more information on stress management for Alzheimer’s caregivers go to www.Alz.org, www.AARP.org, or www.AlzheimersReadingRoom.com. You can also find advice in the other posts on this blog and by doing a Google search on “Caregiver Stress.”