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Legion of Family Caregivers Grows with Aging U.S. Population

Thursday, November 17, 2022

A family caregiver helps an elderly woman with a glass of water.

Middle-aged? There’s a good chance you are among the millions of family caregivers in the U.S. nurturing elderly parents or other loved ones. During National Family Caregivers Month, NewBridge Services salutes you and offers both advice and a self-care freebie.

“Taking care of a parent or a partner who needs help with daily living often evokes positive feelings, but it can also cause tremendous stress — especially for people who are also raising young children,” said NewBridge Services CEO Michelle Borden, a licensed clinical social worker.

Taking Charge of Responsibilities

Family caregivers provide physical, emotional and financial support to someone close to them with an illness or disability that prevents them from taking care of themselves. They may handle the grocery shopping, housework, meal preparation, medication management, bill paying, and personal care like helping the person shower and dress.

The number of family caregivers in the U.S. in 2020 was estimated at 53 million, including nearly 42 million who provide unpaid care to adults age 50 and over. That’s a nearly 17% increase from 2015, according to a report by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. 

As the U.S. population ages, so too do the multitude of caregivers, many of whom are providing care to two or more people. Many family caregivers suffer from depression, anxiety and stress, and their physical health is also affected. “It’s a lot to take on,” Borden said.

Bodies in Motion for Caregivers

NewBridge Services invites family caregivers to indulge in some self-care. Caregivers and seniors and can sign up for three free virtual sessions of Bodies in Motion, a music and movement program, on Dec. 1, 8, and 15 at 1 p.m. Register here: http://weblink.donorperfect.com/seniorsinmotion. All the movements can be modified to accommodate ability. Contact Beth Jacobson, director of Community Outreach and Education, at ejacobson@newbridge.org or (973) 686-2242 if you have questions.

 

Self-Care Practices for Caregivers:

NewBridge Services suggests these self-care practices:

  • Share your feelings with family and friends, and/or keep a journal
  • Recruit others to help with some of the responsibilities, such as cooking and shopping 
  • Practice meditation (there are lots of online resources online, including this one
  • Walk or do other forms of exercise daily (try three 10-minute sessions)
  • Allow yourself a time-out to release your feelings
  • Talk to a therapist, which can be done virtually
  • Find a support group at nj211.org or United Way of Northern New Jersey
  • Go for annual physicals
  • Practice patience with the loved one you’re caring for, and yourself
  • Don’t use alcohol or other drugs to numb feelings

NewBridge SAIL

NewBridge’s Senior Assistance for Independent Living (SAIL) guides families to useful services and programs available in their community, including home health aides, grocery shopping, transportation, and bill-paying. Through NewBridge@Home, caregivers can receive counseling to help them cope with their family’s new reality. Both programs are free to Morris County residents age 60 and over.

Friends and relatives can also play a role in supporting caregivers: 

  • Prepare a special meal, cooking enough for leftovers 
  • Offer to fill in for a few hours, if that’s possible
  • Watch for signs of depression and recommend professional help if needed

More Resources

Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care runs the Care2Caregivers helpline for people who care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. The peer counselors who answer calls can relate: they have cared for a family member with dementia or Alzheimer’s and have worked professionally with patients with dementia. The number is: (800) 424-2494.

The National Alliance for Caregiving is an excellent resource for caregivers, and provides links to other organizations that can help. The Family Caregiver Alliance has an extensive learning center that provides tips, facts and webinars on caregiving.

If you or someone you love needs help, call (973) 316-9333 or visit newbridge.org.

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