Statistically, black Americans are more likely to serve as family caregivers, spend more hours caregiving and devote a higher percentage of their earnings toward that care than other Americans. If you’re caring for a chronically ill or disabled friend, child or relative, you’ve joined one of the biggest – and most important – workforces in the country.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA), an estimated 43.5 million Americans have taken on this vital job. They fix meals, make doctor’s appointments, do the laundry, and generally make sure their frail or sick relatives or friends can live as well as possible for as long as possible.
Caregivers have every right to feel proud of their role. Without them, untold numbers of people would have to move to nursing homes or other facilities. Of all of the adults who receive long-term care at home, nearly 80 percent depend solely on the help of friends and family members. And without caregivers, the health care system would likely collapse from the financial burden. As reported by the FCA, it would cost over $470 billion each year to pay for the services that family caregivers provide for free.
But caregivers also have every right to feel overwhelmed, worried, and confused. As you continue your on-the-job training, you’re bound to face many caregiving dilemmas. You want your relative to get the help she needs, but you don’t want to give up your life or drain your finances in the process. Learning the basics about your job and the resources available to you – a sort of Caregiving 101 – can help you succeed at your new position.
One of your first tasks is to