10/30/13 – Senior Solutions Stresses The Importance Of Caregivers “Now More Than Ever” As National Family Caregivers Month Approaches

In the U.S. today, two out of every five adults is currently caring for an aging loved one. And in a nation where the number of people over age 60 is expected to exceed the number of children under age 15 by 2050, the critical role of the family caregiver is poised to become more important than ever in the coming decades. With November marking National Family Caregivers Month, Senior Solutions, a service of St. Andrew’s and St. Luke’s Hospital, is using the occasion  to demonstrate the importance of family caregivers to our nation’s long-term care system and celebrate them for their tireless efforts.

According to the Caregiver Action Network, caregivers currently provide $450 million in unpaid care annually – more than total Medicaid funding, and twice as much as home care and nursing home services combined. Now 44 million strong, today’s family caregivers literally represent the backbone of the nation’s long-term care system.

A caregiver is defined as any individual, who out of love and concern, takes on responsibility for the physical care and emotional well-being of an aging loved one. From providing transportation to doctor appointments and the pharmacy, preparing meals and assisting with bathing and grooming to helping pay bills, administering medications and offering companionship, the duties of a caregiver are seemingly endless. Currently, Americans are providing 37 billion hours of this unpaid, “informal” care each year for their adult family members and friends with chronic illnesses or conditions that prevent them from handling daily tasks.

“With concerns continuing to swirl over how the Affordable Care Act will affect health care for seniors, one constant remains, and that is the importance of the family caregiver,” said Ann Bannes, Vice President, Senior Solutions. “We have a senior population that is living longer than ever before, and increasing numbers of them are seeking to age in their homes, either by choice, or due economic factors. These aging individuals need health care assistance, and in many cases, their loved ones are stepping up to provide that care and stepping into caregiver roles.”

Current statistics indicate that caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week caring for their loved ones, with 13 percent of caregivers providing 40 hours or more of care a week, often in addition to maintaining full or part-time jobs and juggling other family responsibilities.

“What’s interesting about today’s caregivers is that most don’t consider their efforts to be anything more than family duties, and they simply don’t identify themselves as caregivers,” noted Bannes. “But, the fact is these are individuals who are providing a wide range of home health care services, and in some cases, even some level of nursing support to their loved ones. And, their roles continue to grow and expand as the needs of their loved ones change and evolve.”

Because so many caregivers don’t identify their roles, Bannes notes many struggle with feelings of stress and isolation that can jeopardize their own health and the health of those they care for.

“It is critical for caregivers, and the population at large, to recognize and celebrate the valuable role caregivers play in our long-term health care system,” said Bannes. “The time is now to engage our lawmakers, make them aware of the issues surrounding family caregivers and encourage them to keep those issues top of mind as part of health care policy.”

Individuals in search of caregiving resources are encouraged to contact Senior Solutions at (314) 726-5766, or visit www.seniorsolutions-stl.com. The non-profit organization offers a wealth of information to caregivers, including tips for handling stress, managing time, dealing with health issues and finding appropriate support. It also employs an experienced staff of Geriatric Care Managers dedicated to providing caregivers with the assistance and solutions they need.

Senior Solutions provides seniors and their family caregivers with options designed to to address the issues of aging.  With over 50 years of experience and 100+ years combined expertise, Senior Solutions has the knowledge to ensure elders retain their dignity and receive the respect they deserve.  

For more information, contact:

Shelene Treptow, The Hauser Group, (314) 436-9090

Ann Bannes, Senior Solutions, (314) 726-5766