Did you know there are more than 40 million Americans caring for a family member or friend? Many of them are working a full-time job (or more) while also dedicating 20-40 hours a week* as a caregiver for a family member, friend or neighbor.
There are a lot of assumptions made about who caregivers are and what they do. As a caregiver myself, and through my work with caregivers, I wanted to share a fe myths and facts with you.
Myth: The majority of family caregivers are caring for children at home.
Fact: 82% of family caregivers are caring for at least one other adult (18+), and 15% care for 2 adults.
Myth: It’s always a woman who is providing care
Fact: It’s true that 65% are female but that is changing. In fact, a recent study from Harvard Business School showed that men are more likely to leave a job to care for a loved one than women. (Men 38%, women 27%)
Myth: People become the caregiver because they either aren’t working or have a lower-paying job than others who might provide care for family.
Fact: In the Harvard study they discovered that 61% of those who quit their job to be a caregiver for family we senior leadership in the workplace. 44% were managers of managers and 23% were regular employees.
Myth: Keeping family at home will be easier and saves money
Fact: We often overlook the costs of keeping family at home, especially when they are our parents. Running errands, home maintenance, doctor’s visits, therapy and the prospect of hiring professional care at some point sneaks up on us. Most insurance won’t cover the cost of family care, only professional care.
Myth: Only the patient matters
Fact: The stress of caregiving can be immense, and often the caregiver goes into super-hero mode. “Here I am to save the daaaay!”. That’s great in a crisis, but with longer-term care it’s important to care for yourself too or you may experience burnout, depression and a feeling of inadequacy. Practice a little self-compassion too and get help. Seek out counseling or support from groups. Give yourself a break. For me, taking a mindful approach to caregiving was the answer When Life Hits the Fan.
Myth: Nobody wants to help
Fact: In my experience working with caregivers, many feel that they are the “only one helping”. We may have to face the fact that we aren’t letting others help. Often the caregivers I meet are the family go-to to solve problems, so naturally, the rest of the family defers to them and doesn’t “get in the way”. Being frank about what you need and how people can help can make a world of difference.
How can I help you?
I’ve spent the last several years understanding how a mindful approach to caregiving can help caregivers not just survive but thrive. It quite likely saved my life and my relationships at home and at work. Ask me how.