Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 years, you will have heard about the global caregiver crisis. An aging population coupled with a lack of caregiving personnel has created the perfect storm that healthcare systems worldwide are being forced to weather with varying degrees of success. If we are being honest, the failures are more apparent than the notable successes.
The crux of the matter is that caregivers are being overburdened by a failing healthcare system that depends on them more and more, without acknowledging their essential contributions, let alone affording them a livable wage or even the respect they so deserve.
Most positive advances in the lot of caregivers have come from their own ranks due to their own initiatives or that of advocacy groups. Institutions such as The Global Caregiver have made strides in creating traction on the issue. They have also been instrumental in helping caregivers worldwide to develop professionally and find jobs with pay that corresponds more accurately with their increased professionalism.
Caregivers need us and our support now more than ever, which is why I thought of giving a short list of ways to support caregivers:
1. Education: most lay people don’t know what caregivers face on a regular basis. Out of sight, out of mind is an accurate way to describe the situation. Getting informed on what caregivers actually do is a good start.
2. Logistics: aside from professional caregivers, the vast majority of caregivers tend to be family members and friends who fulfill this vital role without any outside help.
You can help by trying to fill the gap. Offer transportation, if necessary. Cook or clean to help create some free time. Offer to babysit.
3. Listen: most caregivers tend to be go-it-alone heroes who minimize what they do. The standard response when asked how things are going is “fine.” Don’t fall for it. Dig deeper and allow them to vent their emotions if they want to. This can help them decrease their general stress level. It may also offer you an opportunity to find something constructive to do for them.
4. Contribute: since most caregivers tend to be friends or family that sacrifice their time and their finances to take care of their loved ones, you can help by contributing financially. You could also help finance training and seminars for caregivers. This not only helps by creating a more effective caregiver but it will also help them maximize their personal time as they discover better techniques and time management schedules to effectively care for their charges. Proper training can also reduce the caregiver’s general stress levels as they become more professional and effective in their approach.
Where there are caregivers, there are people who would benefit from understanding and support. Whether they are professional caregivers or otherwise, you can support them by demonstrating that you care by offering your time, financial assistance, or an understanding ear.