The problem with family caregiving

” It is a wonderful thing that we and try to keep our parents, grandparents, and other family members at home as long as possible.  When my grandfather had a massive stroke, we cared for him at home until he passed (which was relatively quickly).  However, there are compelling reasons to seek assistance taking care of our sick seniors.”

Our community is known for its expertise in caregiving.  While we only make up around 3% of the general population in California, Filipinos account for 18% of the registered nurses in this state.  Source: California Healthcare Foundation, 2010.

With so many members of our community employed in the health care field; we often have family or friends who are nurses or caregivers.  This fact coupled with our culture that respects our elders and sanctifies the family results in many Filipino families trying to care for our sick seniors at home without any help from outside the family.

It is a wonderful thing that we and try to keep our parents, grandparents, and other family members at home as long as possible.  When my grandfather had a massive stroke, we cared for him at home until he passed (which was relatively quickly).  However, there are compelling reasons to seek assistance taking care of our sick seniors.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 50 million people, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled or aged family member or friend during any given year. Perhaps you’re one of them. If so, and you feel as if your world has turned upside-down, you’re not alone:

• Elderly spousal caregivers with a history of chronic illness themselves who are experiencing caregiving related stress have a 63% higher mortality rate than their non-caregiving peers. Source: Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 282, No. 23, December 15, 1999.

• Stress of family caregiving for persons with dementia has been shown to impact a person’s immune system for up to three years after their caregiving ends thus increasing their chances of developing a chronic illness themselves.  Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, June 30, 2003.

• Family caregivers who provide care 36 or more hours weekly are more likely than non-caregivers to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. For spouses the rate is six times higher; for those caring for a parent the rate is twice as high. Source: American Journal of Public Health 92:305-1311, 2002.

• A wife’s hospitalization increased her husband’s chances of dying within a month by 35%. A husband’s hospitalization boosted his wife’s mortality risk by 44%. Source: New England Journal of Medicine, Feb. 16, 2006.

• Family caregivers experiencing extreme stress have been shown to age prematurely. This level of stress can take as much as 10 years off a family caregiver’s life. Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dec 7, 2004, Vol 101, No. 49.

• Family caregivers report having a chronic condition at more than twice the rate of non-caregivers. Source: National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, Caregiving in the U.S., 2004.

As the above statistics point out, providing care for a loved one is a stressful and demanding ordeal. It is important to remember that the caregiver also has human needs and emotions. In order for the caregiver to provide care to the patient, it is imperative that they care for themselves.

Now, some seniors who “don’t want to be a burden on their families” voluntarily move to a retirement, assisted living or nursing home. On the other end of the spectrum, other seniors make their families promise to never put them in a nursing home (or the families refuse to put them there).

When caring for my grandfather, my family experienced the kind of stress that comes from a family trying to care for an invalid loved one at home.  We would take shifts so that there would always be someone with him and everyone would get breaks.  We have a large family and my grandfather didn’t survive that long; I don’t know if we would have been able to care for him at home if we didn’t have as many people helping, or if he lived much longer.

I have had many families report that their loved one actually got better, i.e., became mentally more alert and put on weight, once they were placed into a nursing home. And if your decision not to place your loved one into a nursing home is a financial one, i.e., “It’s too expensive,” you need to know that it is legally possible to protect assets and qualify for Medi-Cal.

* * *

Elder Law Services of California is proud to announce that attorney Andrew Paranal has joined its trust department.   Mr. Paranal began his career in estate planning in 2013 and has since expanded into asset protection and Medi-Cal planning.  He became interested in Elder Law after helping care for a family member who experienced a debilitating event.  Mr. Paranal is excited to join an established law firm and hopes to educate his Filipino community about the tremendous benefits of proper estate planning.

For more information, please visit elderlawcalifornia.com or call 1-800-411-0546 

2 Comments
  1. I agree sometimes family care-giving is not sufficient. Family cannot take care of elderly people like caregivers do because they are trained in their work and know how to do it and all technical things. In such case opting for respite stays(http://jchcorp.org/respite-stays-nj-rates/) or assisted care is best.

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