The leaves are changing colors, soon to fall from the trees. It’s late in the football season. Baseball’s fall classic is underway. The pumpkin patches are becoming depleted. The dust is being wiped off the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving parade floats. And your favorite farmer’s market parking lot will soon take respite to serve as an orphanage for Christmas trees.
The signs of the holiday season are ubiquitous. Heading into November is an exciting month. It’s also a time for pause, a time when many of us reflect on the year that has so quickly receded. We stop and catch our breath before the holiday season accelerates, and realize that so much of the past year has been spent caring for a loved one. It’s easy to think you’re alone, but there are 65 million other Americans who are also caring for loved ones.
November is National Family Caregiver month, a month for the millions of you who self-identify as a “caregiver.” This reconstruction of self-identity is difficult, particularly when for so many years your identity was shaped by the different roles you played in life. Many of us struggle with the ambiguity of this new role. We live in a society where titles create so much of our self-identity, but for those of who are caring for a loved one, we don’t really know what to call ourselves. We just feel like we are caring for the person we love because we care, or because we love the person - we do it because caring is the right thing to do. However, we often do not associate our effort and care with the title of caregiver.
The economic value of caregiving by informal caregivers has surpassed $450 billion annually. We help with the shopping, laundry and food preparation. We help our loved ones bathe. We feed them. We clean the house. We transport. We provide medication. We groom. We walk. We help with toileting. We are not merely “stopping by to help” or to “offer a friendly hand.” We are caregivers. This is a job. If, though, you ever question your title of caregiver and wonder why the entire month of November has been devoted to you, consider these daunting statistics:
- 64 percent of caregivers report that the person they care for does not live with them. Caregivers report that they spend an estimated 13 hours per month researching care services or information on disease, coordinating physician visits, and managing financial matters. Meanwhile, a recent Gallup survey revealed that 72 percent of caregivers care for a parent, step-parent, mother-in-law, or father-in-law. Further, the survey reported that 67 percent of caregivers are caring for someone more than 75 years old.
- The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP (2009) points out that 58 percent of care recipients live in their own home, while 20 percent live in their caregiver's home; 86 percent of care givers are caring for a relative; 70 percent of working caregivers suffer work-related difficulties due to their dual caregiving roles; caregivers average 20.4 hours per week providing care, and those living with their care recipient spend 39.3 hours per week caring; and those caring for a child under age 18 spend 29.7 hours per week.
- Finally, most caregivers have to completely rearrange their lives. We have to adjust our work schedule. Many of us decrease our work hours or take unpaid leave. No wonder we often suffer from an identity crisis stemming from our new self-identity: caregiver.
Caregiving is often a thankless job, and the pats on the back are few and far in between. We do it because we care and we give. We don’t consider it a sacrifice but an act of love.
Clorox is here to help with a useful site and products that aid with hygiene, germ control and home care cleaning, all-important while taking care of someone in their home. There’s even a free guide to caregiving that is so beneficial to those just starting out on this incredible journey.
Whether you’re in your first year of caregiving or have been a caregiver for some time, Clorox CareConcepts provides a wealth of tips, guides and useful tools for the process.
Clorox CareConcepts kits can be found at stores like CVS, Rite-Aid and online at Amazon, Drugstore.com and Walgreens.com. For a complete list and more information on caregiving and home care, check out the Clorox CareConcepts website.
For National Family Caregivers Month and beyond, I hope this story helps other caregivers and makes their journey as well as those they are caring for an easier one.
Blog By: Tory Zellick
This blog post is sponsored by Clorox.