Every year in this country, there is a growing demand for family caregivers. President Obama labeled these individuals as ‘humble heroes’ because they are the ones who quietly go about their lives and care for loved ones who may be disabled, injured, sick, or elderly. However, because the demand for caregivers is increasing, and expected to continue to increase for the foreseeable future, thanks in large part to the Baby Boomer generation who are retiring now as well as the Affordable Care Act placing more pressure on the medical community to encourage people to recover from illnesses and injuries at home, it also means that there are going to be more people who experience caregiver stress.
Richard Harris wrote in his article Heading toward the caregiving cliff for the Washington Post:
“The Pew Research Center found last year that nearly 4 in 10 American adults identified themselves as a family caregiver and the need is only growing.”
A ‘family caregiver’ is defined as one who is caring for a disabled, ill, injured, or aging family member. It does not include those who are caring for young, healthy children.
A lot of the pressure that is felt by these family caregivers is the result of not having enough time to tend to all of the responsibilities that they face throughout the day. Many caregivers find that they have to choose between their careers, or their jobs, and being there for their loved ones. However, there is a growing awareness within businesses that their employees may have other responsibilities and as long as they want to keep those employees working for them, they need to make some accommodations.
John Schall, chief executive of the Caregiver Action Network, stated that, “We’ve gone from zero miles per hour to 10 miles per hour,” when referring to the fact that some businesses are beginning to recognize the need for helping employees who are caring for a loved one at home. He also noted that there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the efforts of these businesses to support their employees, and to help alleviate caregiver stress. “If businesses are smart, they don’t want to lose employees who are caregivers, because to lose them, hire and train someone else, is actually more costly than providing flexibility (Washington Post).”
The more pressure that a caregiver experiences in his or her life, the more stress will build around them. If businesses and other organizations step up to help alleviate these pressures, it may have a positive impact on reducing caregiver stress for the more than 45 million family caregivers that are toiling quietly right now, those ‘humble heroes.’
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