At some point in our lives, most of us will become caregivers to someone we love—whether offering support as they age or providing care due to a medical issue or chronic health condition. The recent National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP joint report, Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, indicated that nearly 43.5 million Americans provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last year.
In addition to dealing with day to day living activities, family caregivers are often managing complex interactions with various providers, agencies, and healthcare professionals. They average about 24 hours a week on caregiving activities, although nearly a quarter provide more than 40 hours of care per week while also attempting to manage their personal health and wellness. These intense hours of caregiving can take a toll on the caregivers who, as a result, are more vulnerable to stress, financial strain, and health issues. During November, National Family Caregivers Month, we have an opportunity to recognize the critical and challenging role of family caregivers and to consider how to support these important members of society.
One way The Bizzell Group is supporting these often unrecognized champions is through our current project to develop helpful resources for caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Several caregiver modules are being developed for the Health Resources and Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provide caregivers with strategies for more efficiently managing their personal health and wellness and that educate providers on how to integrate caregivers as active members of the care team. The caregiver modules will supplement a broad set of curricula for healthcare professionals on the identification and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. With a rapidly growing population of Americans over 65, many of whom are also family caregivers, it’s critical that caregivers have a source for accurate information, cutting edge strategies, and available resources.