Women Caring for Sick Family Members at Home
By Fr. C.P., Bereavement Coordinator
According to the US Department of Aging, about 65% of seniors who
needed long-term care are being cared for by family members who are women. Those who are performing caregiving roles could be the patient’s wife, a daughter or several daughters, a close female relative, or a combination of all of them. A small percentage of patients have the assistance of paid caregivers who are also predominantly women. The average caregiver is a middle-aged woman who is also working outside of caregiving.
Some of the challenges faced by women caregivers are financial. Women who are caregivers are more likely to live on the threshold of poverty, according to data. Additionally, they are also providing a significant portion of their income to the family member they are caring for. Because of their caregiving responsibilities, many are working reduced hours, have passed up promotions, working in lower-paying jobs, and have poor retirement benefits.
In addition to the financial toll, a significant number of women caregivers reported having mental health issues as a result of the stress connected with caregiving. This could be attributed to the fact that women caregivers respond to caregiving responsibilities in a different way, for example, women tend to stay more at home to provide for the needed care of their loved ones, rather than pursue their careers. Depression and anxiety are the most numerous complaints being voiced by women caregivers. Many have also indicated that their social life is greatly hampered by their caregiving responsibilities which leads to feelings of isolation.
HOPE Hospice understands the challenges facing family members who are thrust into the role of caregiving. Our interdisciplinary team works to help reduce the stress of caregiving while striving to provide comfort for our patients. Our hospice is networked with agencies that provide caregiving services to assist the primary caregiver. We have a Hospice Social Worker who can evaluate the practical needs of the patients and their families and connect them to supportive services in the community. The hospice chaplains are available to address the spiritual needs of the patient and their families in an ecumenical manner in ways that respect the religious traditions of the patients and their families.