Lots of Caregiving in Harlem

Caregiver Support Tips from VNS

By Icare4Harlem

As a follow up to my post from last week, it was evident that there is definitely a need for support resources for family and friends who are caregivers.  The event, Preventing Caregiver Burnout, sponsored by Assemblyman Keith L. T. Wright in partnership with the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNS), was well attended and revealed an array of relatives and friends that provide endless support to their loved ones.  Listening to the stories of the level and intensity of care provided by these folks, was touching and quite an eye opener for an area that is only going to increase in demand.  Many of the stories involved caregivers who are assisting not only one but multiple family members or those that are dealing with medical issues themselves.

An introduction presented by Councilwoman Inez Dickens, reinforced the importance of recognizing the issue of burnout among caregivers.  A VNS representative followed up with alarming statistics for this population.  Here are just a few examples of who are the caregivers in the United States:

  1. 65 Million, or 29%, of Americans each year
  •      38% are adults caring for elderly parents
  •       11% are spouses
  •       14% are parents with special needs children
  1. Women represent 2/3 of all family caregivers
  2. 13% provide 40 hours of care per week
  3. $375 billion in estimated “free” services

In the New York Metropolitan Area…

  1. 1 in 5 adults provide family care
  2. 1 million family caregivers total
  3. 46% have provided care for more than 5 years
  4. More than 50% employed full time
  5.  52% of caregivers experience injuries

The subsequent presenters disseminated information from a nursing and social worker’s perspective.  They provided concrete ideas for alleviating physical and emotional stress, understanding and reducing errors in medication administration, preventing physical injuries while assisting with mobility, resistance from the home bound loved ones, and resources for dealing with the complexities of navigating Medicaid and Medicare services.

A Question and Answer period allowed participants an opportunity to express their concerns and ask relevant questions specific to their own situations.  This seminar also encouraged caregivers to network among themselves and share resources.

The morning was filled with practical and helpful information but equally important was, the opportunity for caregivers to be seen and heard in a community setting.