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The Caregiving Epidemic

Welcome to Caregiver Friday!!!

We set standards every day about different things.  When we were in school and your GPA was calculated they gave more weight to an honors class, that helped your average.  We give importance and meaning to everything and yet there are many times when we don’t address or give weight to something that impacts so many people.  Caregiving is that issue.  As a culture we take for granted that caregiving is something we do because we’re expected to, but it’s not given its fair due.  When we attach a cultural expectation to an role or action it often loses it’s importance and unfortunately even though there have been many studies, there is an imbalance in services for caregivers vs. patients.

Why is it important?  The numbers should propel caregiving to new heights.  The statistics show that 25% of all households are impacted by caregiving issues.  There are 44 million informal, unpaid caregivers in the country.  What do you think would happen if they unionized?  Would services appear or would patients across the country suffer because caregivers don’t have the bargaining chip they need without making their loved one suffer, preventing caregivers from passing go, and collecting $200.

There’s money for those who suffer physical illness, institutes and foundations looking for cures fund enormous programs and yet what about emotional and spiritual illness as a result of the physical illness?   Why does it deserve any less attention?  They say that the squeaky wheel gets the oil and for the most part caregivers have not been squeaky.  Caregivers are often too grateful for the help their loved one is receiving to even acknowledge or have the nerve to demand help until they sign the loved one up for hospice and relief for the family appears.

Can we afford to ignore the needs of caregivers?  What would happen if caregivers went on strike, even for just one day.  I can tell you what would happen; 911 calls would go through the roof; police and fire fighters would be called to help with patients who fall out of bed; emergency rooms would be filled with patients who didnt’ get their medication.  Can you imagine the fiscal impact that would have on the local, state and federal community.  It would be a day of national emergency if 44 million caregivers abandoned their charges.  I’m not advocating a revolution, but I do believe that caregivers need to stop being anonymous.

One way for caregivers to understand their own needs and importance is to visit www.survivingstrong.com and register for the 5-part series, “The Courageous Caregiver”(TM).  I hope you’ll take this seriously…I know I do.  Share with me how your efforts are validated and acknowledged.  How do you get the support you need?  Let’s create a network that supports the 44 million caregivers striving to make the impact of illness on loved ones less stressful and ever so hopeful!

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