According to Families Caring for an Aging America’s report, almost 18 million people in the entire United States are caregivers of people aging 65 years old and above or somebody who has a disability. The sad news, however, is the fact that these family caregivers are often responsible for the long-term care of their older parents, either at their own expense or with a lack of formal training to tackle such demanding job.
Caregivers are at Risk
Admittedly, caregiving is a task which requires physical strength and mental readiness. You cannot properly take care of another individual if you are not mentally prepared for the task. The unfortunate news, however, is the fact that despite their effort and willingness to take care of the old and sick members of their respective families, these caregivers are themselves vulnerable to the following emotional and mental conditions:
- Misery and social seclusion
- Higher levels of stress
- Economic harm through lost career breaks, wages, retirement aids, and other pecuniary benefits
- Advanced rates of chronic diseases
- Low socioeconomic standing
- Out-of-pocket expenditures that can destabilize their own future
- Low self-esteem from poor mental and physical condition
Since most of the caregivers are employed, when they care of a sick or old member of the family for a prolonged period of time, they tend to give up their own aspirations, settle for what’s keeping them afloat, and just keep both ends meet for everyone. Though these conditions may appear harmless on the surface, it could lead to a lot of negative mental repercussions to the caregiver.
Family-Centered Approach and Its Advantages
Currently, the dominant approach in caregiving is person-centered, meaning, the sole purpose of caregiving is to help the aged or sick person in the family. Considering the risks the caregiver is susceptible to experience while offering care, the better approach that families should take note is a family-centered approach.
In this kind of approach, though the old or sick member of the family is being taken cared of, the well-being and circumstances of the caregiver and all the members of the family are also being considered. As a result, the caregiver need not suffer the emotional, physical, and psychological repercussions. It’s a win-win solution for everyone.
To be able to achieve this level of care, it is suggested by Senior Housing News to do the following:
- Look at family caregivers as respected members of the senior person’s team of caregivers.
- Evaluate the caregiver’s skills and voluntariness to take on the task
- Communicate positively to the family caregiver
- Recognize their importance and involvement in the care process
Challenges Involving Privacy of Information
Despite the willingness of most families to work on the family-centered approach in caregiving, the current statutes are posing a greater hurdle on their efforts. Under the current caregiving models, patients’ personal and other necessary health information are being protected, hence, not everyone can gain access to the same easily.
This becomes a challenge to the family since they can take care of the patient properly sans the data on the state of his health. This is the very reason why providers need to understand the needs of their patients.
The reality is until the laws are changed, health care providers are without a bigger leeway in implementing the family-centered approach.
Though laws are slow to update, the recent efforts to bridge the gap in caregiving can be seen in these two statutes:
- The Recognize, Assist, Include, Support and Engage (RAISE) Family Caregivers Act is put in place to push for family-centered care. However, this law is yet to be approved.
- The Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act mandates that rehab facilities and hospitals support family caregivers by providing thorough and interpersonal instruction related to their medical tasks. However, this law only covers Puerto Rico and other 18 states.
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