Nearly every day I read or hear about the growing crisis of caregivers and the demands made on their time and finances when caring for a family member or loved one. Informal or unpaid caregivers are frequently diagnosed with depression or anxiety, exhibit a higher than normal use of medications (both prescription and over the counter) and often have a compromised immune system. The caregiver may also have to cope with their care receiver’s confusion, sadness and general unhappiness which begets violent behavior. Statistics show …
30%-40% of caregivers die before their care receivers.
I’ve heard numerous stories about the loneliness and frustration of many caregivers. One common concern was the lack of understanding by other family members.
- For years siblings of one caregiver felt he was taking personal and financial advantage of their 90-year-old mother because he lived with her. When his own health declined and he could no longer care for their mother, his siblings realized just how much money and grief he saved them.
- One woman bore the sole responsibility for the care of her elderly parents. While doing so, she neglected not only her health, but also the health of her pets. After 3 years of coping with the stress and uncertainty associated with caregiving, she was diagnosed with leukemia, further complicating the family situation.
- Another woman ignored what she thought were minor health issues, continuing to procrastinate making a doctor appointment for herself. She was shocked when she received a diagnosis of cancer and angry it took the decline of her own health before other family members finally worried about her. Oftentimes family members of the caregiver don’t ask how they are doing because they don’t want to be involved in the caregiving of the parent or loved one.
Today many doctors and advocacy organizations are urging families to put a plan in place to address this situation. Sharing information such as medications, doctors, powers of attorney, and funeral plans is critical. Our mission at Strategic Hourglass Solutions is to start the conversations on topics such as moving, downsizing, disability and death, and our Lifetime Legacy Planner is designed to document this information and more.