The moment I read Lucinda’s “I’m Not There” Blog post, I knew that I had to follow it up with a post of my own.
As I looked up different statistics and researched my response, I came across the AARP 2020 Research Report: ‘Caregiving in the U.S.’ When I got the fact sheet titled “The “Typical” No Choice Caregiver”, I must have read the title a thousand times.
“No Choice Caregiver.” …After reading this I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I mean, you cannot say it any better. Most people become caregivers because they genuinely do not have a choice…and if they did most people would NOT choose to become one.
When I first spoke with Lucinda, I was in awe of what she had created; especially being a full-time caregiver herself. She is the true definition of a ‘No Choice Caregiver.’ I knew minutes into our original conversation that I wanted to be a part of I-Ally and to be there for Lucinda.
I’ve been through all the highs and lows of caregiving after I cared for my dad, who is no longer with us. I wanted Lucinda to have someone she could lean on while she too experienced the highs and lows of caring for her dad.
I have shared my story & my struggles I faced with anxiety/panic attacks, and how I literally forgot how to breathe one day.
After reading Lucinda’s words, “I was holding my breath. All of the time. So, I was always out of breath. The mumbling? Well, I didn’t have enough breath to use my full voice.”, I finally started to make a connection; family caregivers are in worse health now than they were even just a few years ago. We “No Choice Caregivers” can’t breathe because we honestly do not have the time to breathe.
The National Alliance for Caregiving states that “No choice caregivers report caregiving has impacted their wellness, more often reporting high emotional stress, high physical strain, and loneliness. They more often say they have difficulty taking care of their health, that their health is poor or fair (less often excellent or very good) and say caregiving has made their health worse.”
Lucinda and I are both a part of the Millennial generation, and most “Millennials” have “Baby Boomers” as parents. In 2020 the United States Census estimates that the Baby Boomer generation, all born after World War II, is now at an age range of 74-55 years old. The transition as the Baby Boomers enter their senior years will significantly impact the rise in caregiving situations.
So, in the next nine years, all Baby Boomers will be (about) the average retirement age; where the risks for chronic health conditions like Heart Disease, Hypertension, Stroke, Cancer, Diabetes, etc. significantly increase. Although more and more people need caregivers, people like Lucinda and I are somehow “too young” to be considered a “typical caregiver” since were under the age of fifty. We are “too young” to be labeled as regular caregivers, so we get thrown the name of “No Choice”…
We are the daughters of men that got sick, required care, and who’s daughters had “no choice.” Knowing that we both struggled to breathe was horrifying and eye-opening; and I know we aren’t alone in this because 23% of other caregivers say, “caring for others has made their health worse”.
Something that has always bothered me when people discuss caregiving is that although some people do it for their full-time paid job, 89% of caregivers of adults caring for a loved one are not being paid a dime. Spending time with a loved one is priceless…unfortunately, we live in a society where 61% of caregivers report that they had no paid family leave, that 10% had to give up work entirely and that 22% have picked away at their savings.
The increase in Baby Boomers who will need care is concerning, but I think the world needs to see as a more significant fear is the decline in the caregiver’s mental, physical, and emotional health.
But what does that mean? This means that now more than ever, the person caring for the person needs support too. When you call to check on the patient, please do not forget to check on the caregiver. Support all the support people, support the ones with the smiles on their faces, the ones who think they can do it all because as someone who has been that person, I am here to tell you we can’t.
We are the daughters of men who got sick. We are the daughters who had “no choice.” We are the daughters that struggled, but now were the daughters who are more robust, wiser, and who will learn to make sure that you will not have to struggle, at least not alone.