A quiet looming crisis: Speaker focuses on toll of caregiving
A hush swept through the Gold Miners Inn last week as Kate Washington shared her personal and, sadly, our national story of the caregiving crisis. Those in attendance learned that they were not alone in their daunting tasks of 24/7 care for a loved one, but sadly, that it is going to get worse before it gets better.
More than 4.5 million Americans have given up their own careers or livelihoods to provide unpaid care for a loved one. Be it care for a spouse, a parent or a child, their loneliness and exhaustive efforts along with the economic impact on their families is tremendous. Whether it is giving long term care for a loved one with an ailment such as Alzheimer’s or home nursing requirements needed as the result of a trauma or surgery, long-term covered care is rare or non-existent.
And as many experience, hospitals release patients many times just hours after surgeries. As Family Caregiver Alliance stated recently, “… patients are released from hospitals ‘quicker and sicker’ than in the past, making it even more critical to arrange for good care after release.”
On release, as Washington experienced, many families are told they must quickly learn to provide intense skilled nursing care. These can be including and not limited to, cleaning picc lines, giving shots or intravenous meds and food, cleaning out ports, and other manners of care by themselves if they cannot afford the round the clock care the hospital strongly recommends (but insurance companies will NOT provide.)
AARP estimates the market value of unpaid care labor at a staggering $480 billion. Washington shared: “The challenges of caregiving arise not because individual families have foolishly failed to set themselves up better to do it. They exist because our society consistently devalues care and does little or nothing to support it.” As Washington stated, the answers must come societally and through systemic and political changes that must start now as the stats on the baby boomer generation hovers over us.
Hosted by One Source-Empowering Caregivers, Kate Washington, author of “Already Toast” as the main speaker at the Aug. 29 event opened eyes and awareness during her presentation. One Source – Empowering Caregivers trains volunteers to provide free respite care so that caregivers can take a well needed break. Visit https://empoweringcaregivers.org/ to learn more.
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