Eagle Valley Senior Life case manager: November is National Caregiver Appreciation Month (column) | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley Senior Life case manager: November is National Caregiver Appreciation Month (column)

Brenda Reyes
Valley Voices

Eagle Valley Senior Life: Partners in Elder Caregiving is recognizing the dedicated individuals who provide in-home care for a loved one as part of National Caregiver Appreciation Month and hopes others will do the same.

Caregivers play a vital role in providing daily living assistance for the elderly, with 80 percent of long-term care in the United States provided by people who aren't health care professionals, usually family members. Often, those being cared for are unable to give the appreciation needed to their caregivers for doing all that they do.

Taking care of another person is very stressful, with 40 percent to 70 percent of caregivers presenting clinically significant signs of depression that may include feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried; feeling tired most of the time, which may result in sleeping too much or too little; being easily irritated or angry; losing interest in activities once enjoyed; frequent headaches, body pains and other physical maladies; and difficulty focusing or remembering.

Caregivers often feel isolated, are unable to pursue their own interests and career and lose their social connections. The number of caregivers is growing as our population lives longer and requires more long-term care. Because of the expense of long-term care, many families choose to care for an elderly loved one at home.

According to a survey conducted by the Alzheimer's Association in 2017:

• 60 percent of caregivers are female and 40 percent are male. The typical caregiver is a 49-year-old female caring for a 69-year-old female relative, most likely her mother.

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• 34 percent of caregivers have a full-time job, while 25 percent work part time. Caregivers who work do so for 34.7 hours per week, on average.

• Caregivers have been caring for four years, on average, spending 24.4 hours per week helping with activities such as bathing, dressing, housework and managing finances.

• 90 percent of caregivers cited emotional stress as the biggest challenge.

• About 80 percent said physical stress and time management were big problems.

• Nearly 70 percent felt financial strains.

• More than 80 percent said they had insufficient help from other family members.

• Almost two-thirds of caregivers said they felt isolated or alone, and roughly half said they had no one with whom to discuss their hardships.

Eagle Valley Senior Life would like to encourage those involved in providing care for a loved one to take advantage of the many community agencies that can provide caregiver support and assistance and encourages everyone in our community to reach out to a caregiver they know and show their appreciation.

Eagle Valley Senior Life invites caregivers to attend a special program on Monday, Nov. 6, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Eagle River Presbyterian Church in Avon. The afternoon will include practical stress-reduction activities, fun with chocolate, gift certificates for massages and other great giveaways, plus delicious treats. Care for loved ones is available at Eagle Valley Senior Life's Senior Spot during the event; RSVP to 970-977-0188.

Brenda Reyes is a case manager for Eagle Valley Senior Life: Partners in Caregiving. Eagle Valley Senior Life improves the quality of life of older adults with cognitive and physical limitations and their caregivers in Eagle County. More information can be found at http://www.evslife.org.