Wednesday, November 11, 2015

~Honoring The Family Caregiver~

Introducing my special guest blogger today, Author of Somebody Stole My Iron: Vicki Tapia~

An Unsung Hero…The Family Caregiver

According to Alzheimer’s Association’s 2015 Facts and Figures, 85 % of unpaid Caregiving help provided to older adults in the U.S. is provided by family members; 2/3 of them women. And, over half of us caring for people with dementia are taking care of parents.

How many of us actually plan on being an unpaid Caregiver? Whether it’s a spouse, parents or a well-loved aunt, it’s unlikely most of us ever anticipate the reality of wearing the label “caregiver.” As the boomer population continues to age, the number of unsung heroes caring for a family member is on the upswing. According to the report *Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, there are currently an estimated 34.2 million American adults taking care of a loved one 50 years or older.

Caregiving can be overwhelming, both emotionally and physically, bringing with it a myriad of emotions, all of which I experienced at one time or another, including:
  • ·      Frustration
  • ·      Helplessness  
  • ·      Anger
  • ·      Sadness
  • ·      Depression
  • ·      Guilt
Caregiving can be lonely! At times, I remember feeling like I was on a deserted island, with nary a person who really understood what it was like.

While speaking at a Caregiver’s meeting recently, two women approached me afterwards to share their stories. One woman told me her spouse with Alzheimer’s is slowly becoming more than she can handle, but her children are insisting that she keep him at home. The other woman suspects that her elderly father, who lives next door to her, is showing signs of dementia, but he flatly refuses to go to the doctor. They were both searching for answers. Like growing old, Caregiving is not for sissies.

I sensed in these 2 women what experts label Caregiver burnout, a very real phenomenon and a number one reason why it’s imperative for all caregivers to recognize the importance of self-care.

If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, I encourage you, please make time for a doctor’s visit.
  • ·      Anxiety
  • ·      Irritability
  • ·      Social withdrawal
  • ·      Sleeplessness
  • ·      Exhaustion
  • ·      Poor concentration
  • ·      More susceptible to illness
*Caregiving in the U.S. 2015 – A Focused Look at Caregivers of Adults Age 50+ was published by The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the AARP Public Policy Institute

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I'm a long-time lactation consultant and published author of numerous lactation articles and found my energies redirected to the other end of life when both my parents were diagnosed with dementia in 2004. My diary documenting my parents journey resulted in the publication of Somebody Stole My Iron: A Family Memoir of Dementia, a 2015 finalist for the High Plains Book Awards. 

In my memoir, I detail the daily challenges, turbulent emotions, and painful decisions involved in caring for my parents. Laced with humor and pathos, reviewers describe my book as “brave,” “honest,” “raw,” “unvarnished,” as well as a “must-read for every Alzheimer's/dementia patient's family.” I wrote this story to offer hope to others, to reassure them that they’re not alone.


To follow Vicki on social media:

Thank you Vicki for sharing you insight and perspective and for being today's guest blogger.

Best Wishes,

Carole Brecht

~The Sandwich Woman, Caring For The Sandwich Generation~

~Your Caregiver Support Network: Where Words Soothe and Ideas & Art Delight~

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