5 Reasons Why Family Caregivers Need Space

Caregive with dogThe family caregiver is the one person in the family who volunteers to take care of an invalid family member, often to provide greater comfort to the patient at a lower cost compared to hospitalization. Unfortunately, this arrangement is far from ideal if the family caregiver has other commitments and little training in the care of an invalid staying at home.

Some of the problems that may arise include:

  1. Lack of privacy for both patient and caregiver as there is no professional delineation and the line between relative and caregiver is easily crossed.
  2. Deprivation of sleep if the caregiver has a job, other responsibilities like cleaning, cooking, caring for children.
  3. The heavy emotional burden of caring for an ailing relative and feeling alone.
  4. Lack of training which can be a risk if the caregiver is unaware of signs or symptoms of a medical crisis.
  5. Feeling of being overwhelmed by the responsibility if the patient is in a serious condition.

As of early 2017, studies show that there are as many as 45 million unpaid Americans caring for an elderly relative – referred to as informal caregivers. The dual demands of the informal caregivers has started to take its toll, costing the economy an estimated $20.6 million in lost wages in 2016, according to the Center for American Progress. In addition, informal caregivers are emotionally stretched thin and stressed. Until the time comes when the government is able to pass a national bill for paid family medical leave, informal caregivers and their patients remain at risk.

At the moment, the best alternative is professional home medical care with RNs as the caregivers. There are companies, like Nurses Guild, that can offer nursing and care services on a part time or full time basis. This will allow some relief for informal caregivers so they can take a much needed break to rest, repair emotional trauma, and take care of other personal and professional needs.

There are ways to afford professional RN care for your family member, such as public benefit programs like Medicare, private insurance, and pooling family assets and resources. The long term benefit of being able to care for a loved one and still manage other responsibilities will minimizing strained relationships with the ill member, being able to maintain your lifestyle, job, and care for other family members. Furthermore, compared to nursing homes, a home health care professional visit a few times a week is much more affordable and pleasant for both family and patient. The patient is able to stay in a familiar, comfortable environment surrounding by family, yet still have access to trained medical care.

Critical to finding the right home nursing service is knowing the terms prior to signing any agreement, including a clause that would allow you to know any policy changes or rate increases before it is implemented.

Growing old or getting sick is part of being in a family. It is inescapable and a life lesson well worth experiencing.  Whether you’re the patient or the informal caregiver, you have a valuable opportunity to strengthen family bonds and cement the love and affection you have for each other.