Most family caregivers feel isolated. Extensive resources are available, but most are unaware of this help. Confident they’re facing their challenge alone, they soldier on, suffering silently even as the stress of the sacrifice they’re making overwhelms them.
The issue is so pervasive that AARP and the Ad Council recently launched a national public service advertising campaign – in Spanish and in English – to let the 42 million+ unpaid family caregivers across the nation know that support and resources are available; that AARP ‘hears you,’ and they are not alone.
As of 2009, the highly stressful and sometimes very complex work of family caregivers was valued at $450 billion dollars annually. But most family caregivers don’t think of themselves as caregivers. They’re doing what comes naturally – helping a loved one, because that’s what’s needed – and not complaining about it. But that doesn’t mean caregiving doesn’t take a toll.
Among Latinos, family takes the highest priority. Extended family under one roof is the norm not the exception. So taking care of an older loved one isn’t unusual, but if the job falls primarily to one family member, typically a woman, she’s not likely to ask for help. She’ll push through as the dutiful daughter and even hide her need. But as family caregiving becomes more prevalent around the nation, everyone must realize the importance of reaching out for help and that plenty of resources are available. Caregivers can’t do a good job of caring for someone else if they jeopardize their own health or financial stability by ignoring stress and personal needs.
By clicking www.aarp.org/caregiving (English) and www.aarp.org/cuidar (Spanish) visitors are taken to AARP’s Caregiving Resource Center – Centro de Recursos. The site connects caregivers to a wealth of resources, including a toll-free caregiver support hotline, available 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday (1-877-333-5885 in English or 1-888-971-2013 in Spanish); online caregiving chats with nurse practitioners, psychologists and healthcare experts; online advisors to answer questions; blog posts and articles with useful information; an online community of other caregivers to share stories and information, and even a care provider locator to help caregivers identify home care assistance and other care options in their communities.
If you are not a caregiver today, most likely you have been one or will be in the future. Remember, caregivers need tender loving care just as much as the people they’re serving. It can start with the simple reassurance that they’re not alone in traveling the road of caregiving with an aging loved one.
This article is paid and supported by AARP.
By Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez
This post is also available in: Spanish