According to the AARP, there are an estimated 44 million Americans providing some level of care and support for family members. These might be adult children looking after their aging parents. It might be parents supporting a disabled child. It could include spouses caring for their partners in life following major injuries or medical emergencies. Whoever it is they are caring for, there is a tremendous amount of stress involved in this type of work.
Yet few actually consider what they do a job, or that it could lead to intense stress and anxiety. Some of these men and women (predominantly women) undergo major challenges to simply care for somebody they love. This strain causes problems for their health, their families, their other relationships, and even their work life (careers).
It is stressful emotionally, physically, financially, and mentally, and yet so many of these very family caregivers don’t consider other options because they either don’t know about them, assume they’re too much money or too dangerous, or don’t believe it’s necessary at first. While the AAP News & Journals Gateway published an article focusing on parents looking after children with special health care needs, the overall crux of the problem these parents face is similar to what other family caregivers endure.
AAP News & Journals Gateway noted in the blog, Many families shouldering responsibilities for home health care, as written by Zachary M. Rossfeld, M.D.:
“Beyond the economic impact, caring for CYSHCN [children and youth with special health care needs] affects the health and well-being of the entire family. Numerous studies across varied settings have revealed associations between caregiving and increased stress, poorer health and mortality for parents of CYSHCN. All this despite the fact that home health services, including private duty nursing, are mandated Medicaid benefits when deemed by the treating physician to be “medically necessary to correct or ameliorate physical and medical illness or conditions” per the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) framework.”
Currently, demand for home care support is on the rise as more people prefer to remain at home, even in spite of the difficulties and challenges they face. That also means there are more family members stepping up as either willing or reluctant caregivers.
The home care sector stands as the gatekeepers for not just the safety and well-being of their clients, but for those who may not fully understand what these services offer. They also stand as advocates for the family members who struggle just to get through each day.
Information is crucial and it comes down to the agencies at the local community level to reach out and share it so these men and women can make better, more well-informed decisions.
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