Having a loved one in the hospital can be a stressful and emotional experience — especially if you don’t have the support you need. Each day, 40 million family caregivers help older parents, spouses, children with disabilities and other loved ones live independently at home. They help with bathing and dressing, manage finances, stand by their loved one’s side when they go into the hospital, care for them when they return home, and so much more.
I have been both a live-in caregiver and a long-distance caregiver. In fact, currently, I’m really both. My dad lives with me (as do my sister and her two sons at the moment), and I also travel for work, about a week every month. I’ve learned to manage my loved ones’ care no matter where I am. Here are some of my tips for other long-distance caregivers.
My Pop, who served in the Navy during World War II, was fond of sharing stories of his military years, and they always started out with the phrase, “When I was in the service of my country, fighting for mankind....” It reminded his children and grandchildren of the magnitude of the war and the sacrifice millions made.
The economic value of the nation’s family caregivers’ unpaid work is an estimated $470 billion a year — an amount about equal to the annual sales of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company.
We're all familiar with the scene, especially after the Passover and Easter holidays. The extended family sits down to dinner and a grandchild starts whining that he's not hungry or eats the mashed potatoes with her hands or takes a dive under the table. As grandparents, we're tempted to take charge and correct the behavior, but the wisest among us won't say a word.
AARP applauds the Bipartisan Policy Center for highlighting the need for a real discussion about America's long-term care crisis and solutions to address it.
I have been very public about caregiving for my parents over the past several years, but I know that the majority of the 42 million family caregivers in the U.S. aren't as vocal as I have been about the challenges we face. Thanks to a recent special report in the Washington Post, this "quiet force caring for an aging America," as it is described, is getting national media attention. Perhaps our voices will not be so quiet as more Americans become aware of the "caregiving cliff" we are headed toward.
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