The number of elderly people in the U.S. is expected to be twice what it was in 2000 by 2030. With the population aging, family members and friends increasingly find themselves in caregiver roles.
An estimated 34.2 million U.S. residents provide unpaid care to an adult 50 years of age or older, according to a 2015 study conducted by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving. Another 9.3 million took care of a child. More than 1 million New Jersey residents are caregivers.
While caring for a loved one can be fulfilling, it also can take an emotional and psychological toll. Too often, caregivers devote themselves to loved ones while ignoring their own needs. During National Family Caregivers Month, caregivers are encouraged to mind their own well-being.
Tips for Caregivers
- Get regular medical checkups, and monitor your health the way you monitor your loved ones.
- Accept offers for help with care.
- Join a support group to socialize with other caregivers and learn from one another. The United Way of Northern New Jersey runs a Caregivers Coalition, with monthly meetings in Morris, Essex, Somerset, Sussex and Warren counties.
- Eat sensibly and make time for exercise—walking is one option.
- Look for signs of depression, and seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed.
Ways to Support Caregivers
- Prepare a special meal that will provide delicious leftovers.
- Offer to fill in for a few hours.
- Plan an outing with them and arrange for someone trustworthy to provide care.
- Watch for signs of depression, and recommend professional help if needed.
NewBridge Services, a 501c(3) nonprofit, is a premier provider of counseling services, housing and educational programs in northern New Jersey that served 10,000 adults and seniors last year alone. NewBridge treats mental illnesses and addictions; teaches skills for coping with stress, grief and challenging relationships; builds and manages affordable housing; offers school-based programs that teach children and adolescents resiliency skills for healthy emotional development; helps young adults succeed in their education and prepare for careers and supports seniors so they can remain independent. Throughout its more than 50-year history, NewBridge has remained true to its mission of bringing balance to people’s lives by tracking shifts in communities’ needs and providing innovative, effective programs to meet them.