Community social workers can be fully trained nurses, house cleaners or chauffeurs. The cost is usually minimal but since they are only available for short periods of time, the caregiver problem still exists.
By: Natasha Morgan
Until we become personally involved, we don’t appreciate the difficult challenges that millions of people face when a loved one becomes ill and requires caregiving.
The majority of unpaid family caregivers in the US are women juggling their valuable time between job and family responsibilities. Many otherwise responsible employees are forced to take time off work to meet caregiver obligations. A career oriented woman can lose advancement opportunities when her boss judges her to be unreliable. To make matters worse, the physical and emotional stress can be debilitating.
Women who are in a financial position to pay for a sick relative’s care are finding it difficult to find anyone willing to take on the task. There is a critical shortage of workers who will suffer low wages, few fringe benefits and stressful work environments.
Some communities employ social workers who will visit homes of very ill patients. They can be fully trained nurses, house cleaners or chauffeurs. The cost is usually minimal but since they are only available for short periods of time, the caregiver problem still exists.
If the shortage of qualified caregivers is evident now, what will happen as the baby-boomers begin to age. None of us wants to be a burden to our children but what are the alternatives?
Many widowed or divorced men are rushing into marriages and candidly admit that they were looking for someone who will look after them in later years.
Women on the other hand are not as optimistic about their spouse’s willingness to become caregivers. They are pinning their hopes on their children, particularly daughters.
Then, there is the large group of men and women who have no family members living nearby. It takes a special friend willing to put her own personal life on hold to become a caregiver.
Since all of us at sometime in our lives will likely be caregivers or need a caregiver, we should plan ahead and avoid confusion at crucial times.
If you have elderly parents:
- Hold open discussions with other family members on how to handle possible situations.
- Who will do what if a parent becomes ill.
- Who will look after bill payment.
- Who is responsible for accompanying the parent on doctors’ visits.
- What will happen when one parent dies.
- Include your parents in the discussions.
If you are reaching your senior years:
- Consider your financial situation and possible future medical expenses.
- Visit seniors’ accommodations conveniently located near family members.
- Add your name if there is a long waiting list.
- Investigate social services that your community offers.
- Contact an attorney and have a will and living trust prepared.
- Compile a list of all valuables and indicate where they can be found.
- Share all you wishes and findings with other family members.
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