• November 13, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Because November is National Caregivers Month, I want to focus on some information about caregivers and the work you do.
    A common feeling shared by almost all caregivers is that they are “in it alone,” so in my workshops I try to dispel that sense of isolation by sharing some numbers related to caregiving. You might find the following interesting, amusing, or shocking, but I hope you’ll see you’re definitely not alone:
    · AARP figures there are between 30 and 38 million caregivers in the U. S.;
    · ABC News estimated in 2006 that 44 million Americans were caring for aging parents;
    · The National Association of Family Caregivers says there are 54 million caregivers, and
    · The federal Administration on Aging lists 60 million caregivers in the U.S.
    Of course, these numbers reflect all kinds of caregiving. There isn’t a source that estimates how many caregivers are working with people who are suffering from dementia or other brain disorders. Still, I find the numbers amazing. Who knew there were so many caregivers among us?
    The good news for you as a caregiver is that not only are you not alone, but with that many caregivers you should be able to find others who are doing what you’re doing. That means you can share joys, frustrations, information and suggestions, which will ease your caregiving burden.
    Finally, one really big number comes from AARP, which tried to figure out the value of the care being provided by unpaid family and friends. They settled on a three-tiered pay system for various locations, calculated the estimated number of caregivers and reported that in 2006 the cost of that free caregiving exceeded $350 billion!
    These numbers aren’t simply curiosities. They’ve been the basis for some changes in public policy and workplace practices that are aimed at helping caregivers. If you have an Office of Senior Resources or an Area Agency on Aging in your community, you can benefit from these number games. Both exist as a response to the dawning awareness of the important role that caregivers play in delivery of healthcare services, as well as the increasing understanding of the needs of caregivers.
    Whether or not you can remember the numbers, I hope you’ll remember this: you are not alone and help is out there if you’re willing to do just a little bit of looking for it.
    Blessings, Joanne