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When Friends Become Caregivers

As the population of aging adults increases in the U.S., the role of caregiver has become increasingly more important.

Research shows that seniors are the fastest growing segment in the country – of those, the number of people 85 and older is outpacing any other age group.

And soon, baby boomers will come of age causing a rapid increase in people aged 65-84.

It’s inevitable that as Americans get older, the number or people with long-term health conditions rises and the number of people requiring personalized elder care goes up with it.

Today, over 50 percent of Americans aged 65 and older have one or more disabilities, while 1/3 of all Americans aged 65 and older have severe disabilities.

This means an increase in the need for health services, community services, and housing, widening the role of those needed to meet the needs of an ever-growing population of aging adults.

What Freedom Home Care has witnessed more and more, is that others are stepping in to fill the gap.

Surprisingly, many people don’t identify themselves as caregivers even though they may have unknowingly stepped into the role having performed tasks like taking an elderly friend to and from doctor’s appointments, spoken to health care professionals, helped cook meals or clean the house, done yard work or home repairs, contacted community service organizations or paid bills.

But any number of things that a person does to help someone who needs assistance, is care-giving.

And because a family member may be working or too far away to take on the day-to-day responsibilities of taking care of an older parent or loved one, friends and neighbors are often there to meet the need.

According to a report published by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP titled “Caregiving in the U.S. 2015,” 85 percent of people providing care were relatives, 10 percent were friends, 3 percent were neighbors and 2 percent were non-relatives.

AARP collaborates with other groups like the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (NAAAA) to launch campaigns raising the awareness about the problem of social isolation affecting older adults who might be suffering from chronic health conditions.

Dallas Jamison, spokeswoman for the NAAAA believes that, because of their campaign efforts, people may be more sensitive to seniors who may be alone without any apparent help.

Ironically, Jamison says a person has to recognize first that they are a caregiver in order to begin the process – especially if they’re providing small home care services.

This way, they can access all of the resources available to better help them meet needs.

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