published on 06/04/2007
Caregiver Essay Contest
By Contributed Article
The Home Instead Senior Care office serving southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia has announced the second annual “Give a Caregiver a Break” essay contest to honor family caregivers for their tireless service. The contest is sponsored by Home Instead Senior Care and Caring Today magazine.
In 500 words or less, family caregivers can tell their caregiving experiences, including the challenges they’ve faced, how they’ve embraced their role as a caregiver for a senior loved one and how a Home Instead CAREGiverSM could make a difference. Entries can be submitted starting May 1, 2007 (at www.caringtoday.com or by mail to Caring Today, 1465 Post Road East, Westport, CT. 06880). Entry deadline is July 16, 2007.
Grand Prize is $5,000 of free care from Home Instead Senior Care, the world’s largest provider of non-medical companionship and home care for seniors. Two First Prize winners will receive $2,500 of free care from Home Instead Senior Care. Winning essays will be published in the November/December issue of Caring Today and the top 10 essays will appear on www.caringtoday.com.
Statistics from a recent report prepared with information collected through the Home Instead Senior Care Web site, www.caregiverstress.com, reveal the challenges that family caregivers encounter each day. More than three-fourths (76 percent) of the 8,000 family caregivers who took the company’s stress test reported that their aging loved one’s needs are overwhelming. Furthermore, 91 percent of family caregivers who completed the test said they have episodes of feeling anxious or irritable; 73 percent have disturbed sleep patterns; and 56 percent seem to become ill more frequently.
“Every day we encounter these family caregivers who love and want the best for their aging family members, but don’t know how to fit it all in,” said James Gardenhire, owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Chattanooga. “For these family caregivers, stress is a constant companion.”
Support is one of the key survival tools for the family caregiver – typically a 46-year-old woman, according to Patricia Volland, MSW MBA, senior vice president of The New York Academy of Medicine and director of the Academy’s Social Work Leadership Institute. “This generation of seniors is living longer and their children often are still raising families and not prepared for older parents with needs. That dynamic is not simple – the relationship between adult children and their aging parents,” she said.
In an effort to better prepare the social workers they train, Volland and her team commissioned a study, which was released late last year, entitled “Squeezed Between Children and Older Parents: A Survey of Sandwich Generation Women.” The poll, which surveyed women ages 35 to 54, showed that more than 60 percent of women concerned about an aging relative’s health said they have difficulty managing stress, compared with 48 percent of women for whom an aging relative’s health was not a concern.
Furthermore, women concerned about an aging relative’s health were about three times more likely (34 percent) to say they worry “a great deal” about having enough time for family than were those women not responsible for the care of an aging loved one (12 percent).
“Our services can be just what harried family caregivers need to help fill in the caregiving gaps they may be experiencing, and to alleviate the stress and worry that caregiving can place on their lives,” said Home Instead Senior Care’s Gardenhire. “Most family caregivers agree that there are many rewards associated with this job, which is why additional support can make all the difference.”
For more information, please contact Tony Boone, with Albers Communications Group, at ext. 7. To read the report “Squeezed Between Children and Older Parents: A Survey of Sandwich Generation Women” log on to www.socialworkleadership.org.
To enter the “Give a Caregiver a Break” essay contest, you must be 18 years old or over and a legal resident of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia. Only one entry per person is allowed. Entrant must be the caregiver and not a third party. Entries may be submitted online at www.caringtoday.com or by mail to Caring Today, 1465 Post Road East, Westport, CT. 06880. Complete rules can be found in the May/June issue of Caring Today or online at www.caringtoday.com or www.homeinstead.com/ct