According to research conducted by the CDC, two out of three caregivers in the US (66%) are women. And, nearly all caregivers of older adults are women over the age of 50. This is due to a number of reasons:
- Cultural norms: Women are already seen as caretakers in the home, are more likely to volunteer or be selected as caregivers for ailing family and friends. Folks who need a caregiver are more likely to want a woman as caregiver.
- Workforce participation: Women are still unequal participants in the workforce. COVID19 has increased their presence at home even more which make them the likely candidates for unpaid that includes caregiving of children and older adults.
- Emotional Sensibilities: Women are more likely to feel a call of duty as it relates to caring for a family member or friend. They will be more likely to step up to the plate to take on the responsibilities.
The reality is that the inequity in this space leads to a lot of negative consequences, especially as it relates to physical, emotional and financial stress on the caregiver.
For example, women caregivers:
- Often have more chronic health conditions, and
- Often exhibit signs of depressions
While it can simply be said that men need to be included more in the caregiving space as caregivers, the question is how do we support women caregivers and do it more often? Also, how can you, as a woman caregiver take care of yourself.
Support for Women Caregivers:
As we look at the issues women caregivers face, we can start to layout what supports are needed including:
- Providing specific assistance and counseling for caregivers
- Provision of and assistance with how to find respite care
- Telehealth or telemedicine support
- Support groups
- Providing equity for the caregiver in the space of care planning for patients. Allow their feedback and actual input into the plan.
In addition, healthcare policies and workplace health programs should be looked at to provide the kind of support needed for the family caregiver including mental health support.
Supporting Yourself as a Women Caregiver:
The biggest things you can do for yourself as a caregiver are in three (4) main areas:
- Advocate for yourself: Speak up in your family about the perceived burden of your duties as a caregiver and ask for the help you need from your loved ones. Also, include yourself in all healthcare planning. Insert yourself as a component of the care plan that needs to be addressed and cared for.
- Seek Support: Reach out to family friends and support groups to get best practices and a forum for discussion for the everyday issues you may be facing.
- Practice Self-Care
- Utilize respite care and the help from loved ones to take a break.
- Acknowledge your feelings and know they are normal. Seek therapy and, as previously mentioned, support groups to help manage those feelings.
- Do things you enjoy whether in small increments of time or by simply getting away when you can.
- Take care of your physical health. Find time to exercise and take care of your own doctor’s appointments.
- Find relaxation techniques that work for you. Meditation is one way but you may find another method that helps you relieve stress.
For additional resources:
National Alliance for Caregiving
Family Caregiver Alliance
Author: Xpress NEMT, Inc.