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Gainesville Florida Estate Planning & Elder Law Blog

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Myths Regarding Caregiver Stress

I came across this article on the Florida Counseling on Aging website and thought I would share it with you.  For those of you who do not know, a caregiver is anyone who provides help to someone else who is in need on a daily basis.  Informal caregiver and family caregiver are terms that refer to unpaid individuals such as family members, friends, and neighbors.  Formal caregivers are volunteers or paid care providers associated with a service system.  Many FCOA members are currently providing care for a loved one.  Let’s look at some myths as well as facts about this burgeoning caregiver population.

MYTH:  Less than 10% of American households are involved in caregiving to persons age 50 or over.

FACT:  There are approximately 22.4 million households, or 23% who are caregiving loved ones.  More than one quarter of the adult population has provided care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during the past year.

MYTH:  There are an equal number of males and females who are caregivers.

FACT:  Approximately 75% of those providing care to older family members and friends are female-most likely a daughter.

MYTH:  A caregiver spends about 5 hours a week providing care to older adults.

FACT:  Caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care to older adults.  They also spend an average of 4.5 years providing this care.

MYTH:  The average age of caregivers is 40.

FACT:  The average age of caregivers is 60 with a range from ages 19-98.  Of those working, 18% quit their jobs and another 42% reduce their work hours.  This causes great financial strain in an already stressed family system.

MYTH:  Less than 10% of caregivers are clinically depressed.

FACT:  46-59% of caregivers are clinically depressed.  Caregivers use prescription drugs for depression, anxiety, and insomnia 2 to 3 times more than the general population.

It is critical that caregivers receive support for this profound, life-changing experience.  Caregiver support groups are an excellent venue for caregivers to share their experiences and receive help and guidance as they navigate the challenges faced on a daily basis.  Alzheimer’s Resource Centers, Senior Centers, Hospice organizations, Community Mental Health Centers, Churches, as well as local psychologists and social workers are excellent resources that provide the tools necessary to assist caregivers with their caregiver journey.

FCOA would like to thank Christine Cauffield, PhD, FCOA Trustee for this Myth-Information submission.


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