Who Will Care for the Carer? #CareForACarer

If you have ever been the carer for a loved one (“carer” is a term used to describe someone who provides unpaid assistance to someone in need), you will definitely understand what I’m about to say, “being a carer is often a lonely, stressful and overwhelming task”.

I know this is true because I have been there. Before their deaths, I cared for my mother-in-law and along with my siblings, cared for my mom when she was in declining health.

“Old women in Oxford Church of Christ” by Sami Ben Gharbia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I’m a nurse, so you would think this would have been easy for me, but it wasn’t. When you’re emotionally involved in a situation, all objectivity goes out the window. In the darkness of a long lonely night, I wasn’t a nurse…I was just a daughter or daughter-in-law, worried sick about my mom.

What really comes as no surprise, to me anyway, is statistics show more women than men care for loved ones across the globe. I find the role of nurturer often falls into a woman’s hands. Were you aware that role can actually take a toll on a person’s health and wellbeing? Consequently, a carer’s own health often suffers as a result of the stress and demands of caring for someone else.

So, that begs the question, who will care for the carer?

 

Who will look after the 47% of unpaid carers suffering from depression and the 57% who feel they need medical care/support for a mental health condition (depression, anxiety, stress).

While many people understand that carers play a crucial role in the lives of those that need them, what’s less understood is the need for resources and support for the caregiver.

I recently became aware of a wonderful initiative called Embracing Carers. It is a global action in collaboration with leading carer organizations around the world. The goal is to increase awareness and discussion around the needs of carers.

The Embracing Carers Initiative is led by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operating as EMD Serono in the US and Canada.

This action addresses caregiver stresses by highlighting the unmet needs of caregivers on a global and local level. It empowers caregivers to advocate for their own health and wellbeing and has the support of many patient and physician groups around the world.

What does this mean for you?

 

While not all carers, care for the elderly (like I did), it is a fact that our population is aging. 

“Across Canada, the increase in the share of seniors since the last 2011 census ‘was the largest observed since 1871 – a clear sign that Canada’s population is aging at a faster pace’. “ (1)

So chances are pretty good, at some point down the road, you or someone close to you, may be thrust into the role of carer. If that happens, it will be good for you to know the Embracing Caregivers effort exists and will be there to help.

While I wouldn’t have had it any other way and I don’t for one millisecond regret or begrudge caring for my mom and mom-in-law, it did exact a toll. This all happened several years ago, long before the  Embracing Carers movement began, but if it had existed, I know I would have scoured the web for words of encouragement.

How can you help?

 

  • Share this blog post and let others know about Embracing Carers.
  • Post messages of hope intended for caregivers globally using the hashtag #CareforaCarer.
  • If you see the hashtag #CareforaCarer on Twitter, take a moment to hit Retweet.
  • If you belong to an organization or a business that supports carers or caregivers, make sure people are aware of it.

(1) https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/census-2016-statscan/article34882462/

This has been a Thrifty Mom Media influencer outreach project. This post has been sponsored by EMD Serono, which means I have been compensated. My opinion is all my own and it is also truthful.

Comments

  1. This is really interesting, thanks for sharing this! I have watched my parents help my grandparents as they’ve gotten older and struggled with injuries or their health in general.

  2. My brothers and sisters and I have been having conversations about who will care for our parents. We have to do it together because for all the responsibility to fall on one or a few is too much. there is caregiver burn out and yes, it does take a toll mentally and emotionally. This organization is much needed.

    • It’s ideal if you can handle the caregiving as a group and not have it fall to just one person.

    • Hi Jen,
      My brother, myself & his wife all cared for our mom. Thankfully, we lived only 3 miles apart. She lived with them so they cared for her at night & the mornings. We tried to alternate days & nights. Sometimes I spent the night just so they could sleep all night!
      Mom was a diabetic & also on “home dialysis.” She was sick all the time after the first year. It was hard! We were able to have home health, 3 days per week, for a couple of hours. This took the place of most Dr. visits, thankfully!
      She had had a stroke, then a second one & was going downhill. She could no longer walk except 2 steps to get into bed while holding onto one of us.
      When she couldn’t keep anything in her stomach, my brother called in Hospice. After a couple of months, the decision was made to stop dialysis. This began the gut wrenching time, waiting & making her comfortable. She felt a lot better, she slept better as well. I was staying with mom for a couple of days. On Thursday, she was so sick! The hospice nurse got there & began making phone calls. She told me mom needed constant care, more than I could do. We had prepared for this (??) & had a bag packed. They were taking her to a hospice facility. Mom had the best of care! All of the people there treated her, & me, like family! They showed her love & respect, I will never forget them! Mom passed peacefully in her sleep.
      Check insurance policies, talk to the company, ask questions! Find out what your options are, the benefits. Keep notes! When the time comes your won’t remember. It will still be a shock.
      I pray you & your siblings are close, that you love each other! Your love will be tested! Stay strong, our faith kept my brother, his wife & myself from pulling our hair out. It is what keeps our love & respect for each other strong! Love hard & say it often! Be good to Yourself!
      I wish you & anyone else in this position, love & peace.

  3. I agree I don’t for a second regret the time I had my Mom living here close to us so that I could help with her caregiving and direct her health care. But it definitely exacts a toll on a person’s health and well being. There were many times I felt overwhelmed. I am glad people are raising awareness and I hope that businesses and health policy also follows suit recognizing this as a phenomenon that is not unique and will be growing for years due to the demographic. I am also glad to see people like yourself sharing this important message.

    • It certainly does exact a toll, Paula! It can be very overwhelming and it is so helpful just to know you are not alone, that others can relate to what you are experiencing. Just need to get the word out that this initiative exists!

  4. I often think about my parents and needing help as they age. It is a tough thing to have to care for the aging.

  5. im not sure if this relates but most of survey results resemble me , ive gone through an unhealthy and unbalanced relationship in which i was the care giver and although this relationship is over , i still suffer from it

    this is a great and rich post!! thank you for sharing it !

    • Than you Zoey and I am very sorry that you have gone through this, and are still dealing with it. Check out Embracing Carers and see if that helps you to cope. You’re not alone!

  6. Care for the carers is absolutely needed. My brother and father were the main caregivers for my mother (since they both lived with her), while her health was failing over the span of one month. I was all kinds of stressed over their health as well. I looked everywhere for some form of affordable help for them, and distressingly came up empty.

    I’d see my father struggling multiple times a day to lift my mother up sets of stairs while he has a steel hip himself.

    And I’d be anxious about my brother’s mental well-being, especially since he’s also going through college on a scholarship, while acting as a full-time nurse.

    I did my part as much as I could too, and the pain of watching my mother, a brilliant, analytical woman, deteriorate so quickly has left its mark.

    This current state of lack of community, being left to flounder can be soul-destroying.

    I wish all the luck to #CareForACarer to improve this imbalance. So that we’re not left feeling isolated and alone and even weak from what we can and cannot do to help our loved ones.

  7. Having four children I am hoping one of mine will care for me. When my grandmothers both passed they had been widowed for years. Their children took care of them. I feel so bad for those without family . I think it is important for the caregivers to get support and have somewhere to turn.

    • It’s a tough situation when you are a caregiver, it can be so lonely and isolating. Hopefully this program will fill the gap and let carers know there are others in the same situation, sometimes just knowing you are not alone is helpful.

  8. I was a caregiver for my neighbour after she fell ill, it was hard seeing her in so much pain. I keep thinking about my mom too, but thankfully she is still in good health!

  9. I think this is an important topic for families to discuss. As a daughter of aging parents, the thought does cross my mind. Having a support group with other caregivers is a wonderful idea.

  10. Claudia Krusch says:

    We talked to our parents about what they wanted for when they got older and needed help. I think it is important to make a plan with our loved ones .

  11. I’m so happy you are addressing this topic. I know several caregivers who are so burned out they cannot take proper care of themselves. It’s so easy to take them for granted.

  12. I’m actually not surprised. It’s definitely not an easy task. Luckily this organization is helping the carers.

  13. That’s a good question. I often worry about the future for my child who has special needs. He will eventually require a carer

  14. Caregiving really does take a toll on a person. This sounds like a great organization! Very much needed.

  15. This is an important message to let carers know they’re not alone & that there’s a support group ready to help them. We moved my mother from her condo to a senior community this summer & we’re very grateful for their support which can jump to assisted living when she needs more help.

  16. I am the carer for my mom and her husband. It is very difficult because they are over 2 hours away. I have been traveling back and forth and it is so hard to take care of of my family and her also.

  17. This is such an incredibly important message to spread to allow carers to know that there is support out there.

  18. Edna Williams says:

    This will definitely be a tough situation for a caregiver. I agree.

  19. Caregivings is not the job of only one person. I think the capaign is really important because it let the carers know that there are many others supporting them! Thanks for sharing this. Seems like a meaningful organization!

  20. Leigh Anne Borders says:

    Although I am not quite at this stage of life, I do think about it from time to time. Anythi9ng can happen at any time that could change the course of our lives. It is certainly not an easy one. I would want to be there to cherish the time I have with loved ones.

  21. lori galbraith says:

    I have been there, being the caregiver is very hard. It is often overwhelming.

  22. So much truth here…how it takes a toll on the care giver. This is an excellent program.

  23. Caregivers are often overlooked which is def not good given how much they take care of your Love one.

  24. Blair villanueva says:

    Caregivers gives an integral role in a society. Without them, our elders will be forgotten and haven’t experience enjoying the last daysc of their lives.

  25. Caring is sharing and carers share their time and effort with their loved ones. God bless them

  26. thanks for the reminder that there are more people affected by an illness or situation than just the person experiencing the illness.

  27. Thanks for sharing this! While reading your post I couldn’t help but remember a quote I read long ago “Remember to take care of yourself. Sometimes you get so busy taking care of others that you forget to take care of yourself.”

  28. Really your post is a great and rich post. I agree with you. I have been having conversations about who will care for my parents and I love my parents . This is an excellent program. God bless you.

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