As a result of numerous medical and scientific advancements, public health initiatives and implementation of best practices for health and wellness, people are getting older, and living longer. This implies that aging populations will experience health challenges in their life-time. In the case of our patients who are diagnosed with rare bone marrow failure syndromes such as MDS, PNH or aplastic anemia, they need someone to be there and provide appropriate levels of care. This person(s) is known as a caregiver.
What is a caregiver?
There is no one definition of caregivers or caregiving. For the purposes of this article, we define caregivers as relatives or friends who provide a wide range of care to dependent children, spouses, parents, siblings, other relatives, friends and/or neighbors. Caregiving are the actions of providing care to these individuals which can include:
- Practical assistance with basic activities of daily living (e.g. housekeeping, shopping, meal preparation)
- Personal care (e.g. help with monitoring medication, bathing)
- Physical help (e.g. assistance with movement, supervision, direct medical care)
- Emotional and social support (e.g. visiting, transportation, talking about emotions)
- Finding and accessing services (e.g. housing, medical supports)
- Behavioral support (e.g. communicating effectively, managing challenging behaviors)
- Financial help (e.g. financial support, managing finances)
Overarching all of these activities, caregiving is the assumption of responsibility for providing care, along with the concern, worry and emotional involvement this entails.
In an article by Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Caregivers for the aging population “we are heading into a kind of caregiver crisis”. The predicted projection within U.S population denotes that over the next 15 years the elder population is expected to increase exponentially. In 2030, when all baby boomers will be at least 65 years old, the population of adults in this age group is projected to be 71 million (Administration on Aging, 2007). These statistics represent more than a 100% increase in the number of persons 65 years and older. Great news right? Yes, most would agree this is great news; however, who will care for them? Caregivers!
To learn more about caregivers read an interview with Jane Meier Hamilton, RN, MSN.
To learn more about the impact of caregiving on the family read the following article from the American Psychological Association.