When my mother was diagnosed with advanced Parkinson's with Lewy Body dementia in 2015, and we quickly realized she would need assistance to do many things we all take for granted – dressing, eating, and sometimes even standing up. My step-father, Harry, graciously acts as her 24/7 caregiver and has since she was diagnosed. Without his selfless care, Mom likely need to be in assisted living because her disease has now progressed to where she cannot safely live on her own. My family is lucky – not everyone has spouse who is willing and able to take on the role of caregiver.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 43.5 million caregivers provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months with 34.2 million of this group providing unpaid care to an adult aged 50 or older. Over 1 in 6 Americans working full-time or part-time assist with caring for an elderly or disabled family member. With our elderly population increasing, we can expect even more people will be called to care for a loved one. For more information, click here to see more data on caregiving.
Private caregivers are expensive, but they provide vital help enabling persons dealing with these severe diseases to live at home instead of in an institution. However, private caregiving can be costly and not an option for everyone. If you are facing a situation where you or someone you love is likely to be a caregiver, this link walks you through some key issues to consider when developing a caregiving routine: Caregiving considerations.
Caregiving is taxing in a way few can imagine and being a caregiver for someone in your family is even tougher because you must reconcile your new role as caregiver with your previous relationship. Burnout is a common and predictable outcome from caregiving. South Carolina families struggling with caregiver burn out should know there are resources available to them at the South Carolina Respite Coalition.The Respite Coalition offers limited financial stipends for 24/7 caregivers which can pay for limited private care giving the caregiver a break – here is the linkCaregiver resources are also available at the local South Carolina Agency on Aging – here is the link with contact information for your geographic location: SC Agencies on Aging.
Bottom-line: Family caregivers cannot do everything on their own and require support from the extended family to sustain a home caregiving routine. Caregivers should not hesitate to ask for help and the extended family should be ready to step in and help when they can. My brother and I have and I have developed a schedule for us to step in and take care of Mom so Harry can have a much needed mini-vacation. It gives us the opportunity to have quality time with Mom and he returns refreshed and rested. Though both Mom and Harry's needs will change as we journey through Parkinson's with Mom, with love and understanding guiding us, we will come out fine in the end.