Are You a Family Caregiver?

By:  Christine Crosby, Editorial Director for GRAND Magazine

I just read where a third of grandparents who care full time for their grandchildren are still in the work force. But add to that the fact that most of these grandparents (average age 55) are also caring, on some level, for a parent or other senior relative. This is no small challenge. Caregiving results in major changes in a family; physical, emotional, social and financial. Talk about stress!

If you’ve ever had to put a loved one in a nursing home, even temporarily, you know that it’s the last place you’d want to be.

Families are the major providers of long-term care, but caregiving exacts a heavy emotional, physical and financial toll. Many caregivers who work and provide care experience conflicts between these responsibilities. Twenty two percent of caregivers are assisting two individuals. Almost half of all caregivers are over age 50, making them more vulnerable to a decline in their own health

Fortunately, but unbeknownst to many, there is help for all of us caregivers. It’s the National Family Caregiver Support Program. First established in 2000 it provides grants to states based on their share of the population aged 70 and over, to fund a range of supports that assists family caregivers to care for their loved ones at home for as long as possible. Find out more at this site: http://www.aoa.gov/AoA_programs/HCLTC/Caregiver/index.aspx

So, if you are a caregiver or want to avoid being the one requiring caregiving, take a serious look at your own lifestyle. You’d have to be from another planet to not know the lifestyle health dangers of being over weight, smoking, poor diet, excess alcohol, lack of exercise, etc. When we are young, we get a free ride…it’s kind of like floating along with the tide, but after a certain age…let’s say 50, the tide has changed and we are now swimming against it.

So, as First Lady, Michele Obama says, Let’s Move! http://www.letsmove.gov/eat-healthy The odds are you will be a caregiver if you’re not already and you’ll need your own good health to manage your caregiver responsibilities. And, if you are really smart and take good care of your one-and-only body now; hopefully, you won’t need a caregiver for a very very long time.

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