Now is the time to recognize and honor family caregivers across the country. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of caregiving issues, educate communities and increase support for caregivers.

The burden of care is often placed on adult children or other family members, many of whom have full-time jobs and kids of their own. According to an Alliance for Caregiving and AARP Public Policy Institute survey, 40% of caregivers feel emotionally stressed, almost 20% say it caused financial problems, and about 20% feel physically strained. Unpaid-caregiver burnout among these “sandwich generation” individuals often impacts their performance and engagement at work.

Family caregivers comfort their elderly and/or ill companions, coordinate their care, help them bathe, clean their houses and shop for them. While many find the experience rewarding, it can also be frustrating and take a toll on their emotional and physical wellbeing. Over half of caregivers report elevated levels of depression and anxiety, worsened physical health and higher use of psychoactive medications.

These tips are a good reminder for caregivers and those who are close to caregivers:

Seek support Ask family members for help and include them in caregiving decisions. See if your employer offers a program like Magellan’s Senior Caregiver Assistance, powered by DUOS, that combines human contact with technology that can give caregivers much-needed support and enable seniors to live full lives.
Share the tasks When family or friends offer to lend a hand, be ready with specific ideas. Make a weekly list and share that list with others to help with shopping, housecleaning, etc.
Take care of yourself Be sure to schedule and go to your medical checkups. Eat a healthy diet, exercise and get enough sleep.
Make time for activities you enjoy Don’t neglect the things in your life that need attention. Read, listen to music, paint, play a game, etc.
Plan for respite care Respite services provide someone who can stay with your family member while you get away for a few hours or days. Time off can help you manage your stress and be a better caretaker.

Visit our Behavioral Health Resources web page for free resources and expert advice to help our communities, client, members and providers.

Sources: CDC, Healthwise