According to a recent report by AARP spousal caregivers get by with fewer resources than other caregivers (such as adult children).
The typical spousal caregiver is retired, works part-time or is unemployed. He/she cares for the needs of his/her loved one with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) around the clock, with no outside family assistance and rarely any visits home care aides, nurses or other professionals. According to the AARP report; “84% of spousal care recipients receive no visits from health care professionals, compared to 65% of non-spousal care recipients.”
Spousal caregivers take care of most every need their loved one has including; medication administration, helping with ADL’s (activities of daily living such as baths and dressing), preparing meals, and doing all of the household chores. Spousal caregivers not only perform most all of the daily care for their loved ones with AD, they also serve as the only source of social interaction his/her loved one has contact with each day. Other hats commonly worn by spousal caregivers include; cook housekeeper, nurse, care coordinator, driver and activities coordinator-to name a few.
Friends and family members rarely offer help because spousal caregivers tend to insist they are doing just fine without any help. This means rarely taking a break from daily caregiver responsibilities and perhaps even feeling guilty when taking time out for self-care.
AARP provided a report on a national survey of 1,677 family caregivers of adults-one out of every 5 were spousal caregivers. According to the AARP report “Family Caregivers Providing Complex Chronic Care to Their Spouses,” the scenario of a very dismal picture of the spousal caregiver was true for the majority of those surveyed. In fact, over 58% of the spousal caregivers reported no outside help what so ever from family, friends, or even from professional sources.
When compared to a child who cares for his/her parent with AD, most adult children have a full time income and can afford to pay for some level of respite care and/or assistance with household chores-even if It’s just a few hours per week. Spousal caregivers on the other hand, are usually around age 64, care for a spouse around the same age, live alone with their partners, and have relatively low incomes.
So what should be done about this dilemma? Bringing attention to the issues that face spousal caregivers is important. As family members, it’s vital to offer help even though caregivers can appear to come off as being very stoic. There are FREE sources of assistance offered by various institutions, contact your local Office for the Aging by CLICKING HERE
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