My husband and I kind of fell into parenthood. It came as a surprise, as did our son’s colic, high needs, g-tube, delayed gastric emptying and autism. Then later, our daughter’s autism diagnosis. I became a stay-at-home parent out of necessity, because our son required a certain level of care. In the course of one year, my life changed drastically as I stumbled into my role as a caregiver. Becoming a caregiver, or carer, is typically not something that is planned. It is something borne from necessity, a life-changing, unpaid role that can be as rewarding as it is exhausting.
Embracing Carers, by Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operating as EMD Serono in the US and Canada, is a multi-year initiative to improve the lives of caregivers and patients. A caregiver’s own health often suffers as a result of their role. More than 55% of surveyed carers reported that their own physical health has suffered as a result of their role as an unpaid caregiver. As the primary caregiver to our two children with special needs, I always end up putting my own needs last. I know that needs to change, but it is difficult when there are so many other responsibilities!
The Impact of Caregiving
The demands and stress of caring for another person are significant. Caregiving places a demand on one’s career, physical health and mental health. Of those surveyed, 47% of unpaid carers reported feelings of depression. Of those people, 57% feel that they needed medical care or support due to their role as an unpaid caregiver – and 25% of these have not sought help. Additionally, 21% of unpaid carers say they are worried to ask for help to address their own health. I can relate to not wanting to ask for help, or being afraid of becoming a burden to someone else.
In the past few years, I’ve often thought of the analogy of first putting the oxygen mask on yourself before helping those around you. It is so much easier said than done, and I am thankful that the Embracing Carers initiative seeks to address this public health problem.
How Can I Help?
- Use the hashtag #CareforaCarer to post messages of hope to a global audience of caregivers.
- Retweet #CareforaCarer messages you see on Twitter.
- Share this post!
- Belong to an organization that supports carers or caregivers? Share your positive programs or examples!
This has been a Thrifty Mom Media influencer outreach project. This post has been sponsored by EMD Serono, which means I have been compensated. My opinion is all my own and it is also truthful.