Brenda Lyle – FLORIDA TODAY
Q: What is a family caregiver?
A: Family caregivers are sons, daughters and spouses who find themselves the nurses, counselors and pharmacists to their parent or spouse. Most family caregivers are thrust into the situation unexpectedly. And while 12 states provide compensation for family caregivers, most are unpaid.
Caregiving by the numbers
According to 2020 statistics from the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, there are 53 million family caregivers in the U.S., with women comprising 61%.
Within the caregiving ranks, 45% report that their role has had a negative financial impact on them and 21% report a decline in their own health as a result of being a caregiver.
What is the impact on family caregivers?
Caregiving can exact a physical, mental and financial toll. Family members may find themselves performing tasks like bathing, meal preparation and medication management for their parent or spouse.
They may have become the decision-maker for their impaired relatives. These role changes can strain the family dynamic and individual relationships.
Complex care scenarios can affect caregiver health and result in “caregiver burnout,” which can come on rapidly. Burnout may exacerbate the stress of caregiving, creating a cycle of fatigue, depression and social isolation.
Where is the help?
When a caregiving situation arises, families may first think to seek out a paid caregiver.
However, the cost of caregiving can be daunting for some. Private duty care in Central Florida costs an average of $25/hr. Adult daycare averages $65/day.
Medicaid assistance is possible — but generally cannot be counted on to provide an immediate solution for financial challenges.
Central Florida agencies such as Share the Care, Seniors First and Aging Matters can help ease the caregiving burden, offering respite care, support groups, low-cost adult daycare and other programs.
Orlando’s Senior Resource Alliance serves Brevard, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties and is a point of contact for the many services and programs of the state and federal government, including assistance with respite care, homecare and Medicaid.
What does the future hold?
The number of people over age 65 in the U.S. is projected to double over the next 40 years. At the same time, American families are having fewer children, which means fewer family caregivers in the years ahead.
Caregiving costs will likely continue to rise, making it imperative for families to think about and plan financially now — for care as they age.
One Senior Place can help you find the resources to create a long-term caregiving plan. If you need additional incentive, read “Already Toast” by Kate Washington, an eye-opening 2021 account of unpaid family caregiving.
One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to AskOSP@OneSeniorPlace.com, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.
Brenda Lyle is a Certified Care Manager and Certified Dementia Practitioner with One Senior Place, Greater Orlando.