Longevity Network
  • Jan 09, 2017
  • Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins

Guest Voices: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins of Honor on Family Caregiving Tips and Trends

Guest Voices: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins of Honor on Family Caregiving Tips and Trends

Linda calls her Dad for her daily check-in. “How did Mom do today?”  While listening to him recount how Mom slept, what she ate, and whether she took her medications, the working mother of two scribbles the notes down on a pad in her office cube.  This is a snapshot of how millions of men and women juggle their roles as family caregivers.

The AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving estimate about 34-million Americans provide unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older. Each year that statistic is expected to grow along with the aging baby boomer population. (source: AARP 2015 Report)

Today, we are hearing more about home care options and learning more about the changing attitudes around family caregiving from a new national survey.

The 2016 Honor Family Caregiving Survey reveals that a larger number of Americans who hadn’t yet been exposed to the caregiving process viewed caring for an older loved one as a “burden.”  This same group also expressed far greater concern over the financial impact of providing care.  Those who were already deep in the trenches of a caregiving role viewed the experience as a “gift,” and were less concerned about cost implications, despite the potential toll on career, financial security and other life responsibilities.

New information also shows it’s not just senior spouses providing care.

Out of 1000 adults over the age of 18, 40% said they have served as a caregiver for an aging loved one.  And a combined 35% are 18-44.  Four out of every 10 caregivers are men.  This is growing to become a shared responsibility which stretches across communities of men, women, young, older, and all socioeconomic levels.

What came as a surprise is that regardless of our current life stage and attitudes toward assuming a caregiver role, when that moment comes for us to provide long-term support to an aging parent or grandparent – many of us are simply unprepared.  Nearly 57% of survey respondents said if a loved one needed immediate care, they could not provide it.  And, nearly 88% surveyed said it would be up to them — alone or with a sibling — to shoulder the responsibility.

Here are 3 tips that can help take some stress out of caring for an aging loved one:

  1. Create a caregiving plan that involves the recipient and other family members.  Ninety-one percent surveyed indicated that their loved one would prefer to stay in their own home, if possible. Volunteers and professional caregivers alike should always be appropriately vetted with a background check and provided with feedback after each visit to ensure that their care style and protocols are in sync with family member expectations.
  1. Establish and maintain a relationship with your loved one’s medical team and share regular notes and communication to help keep them informed about care and wellness routines that take place in the home.
  1. Remember that it is important to care for yourself too – prioritizing your own health will help you manage stress and, ultimately, be a more effective care provider.

Tip number 3 is really important. Linda and her Dad recently added a paid Care Pro to help with her Mom’s care. She is there a few hours a day to make her happy, comfortable and safe. She is also there to give Linda and her Dad a much-needed break.  And that helps them embrace their roles as family caregivers as a “gift.”

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Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins is Head of Care at Honor home care company. She is a labor advocate and family caregiver.

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