It may start with a phone call—Mom’s had a fall, bad news on your partner’s medical test, or your worst fears about a child’s condition are confirmed. Suddenly, there’s a new, intensely demanding role added to the too many you’re already juggling.

Caregiver.

As you start dealing with the urgent new demands on your time, you may think you’re the only one in this situation—not surprising, since caregiving can be a tremendously isolating experience. But it’s estimated that 65 million Americans are providing care for someone in their immediate circle. “Today’s average caregiver in the United States is a forty-six-year-old woman who holds down a paid job and spends twenty hours a week providing unpaid care for an adult who used to be independent,” writes Gail Sheehy in her new book Passages in Caregiving. “One-third of family caregivers are actually on duty forty or more hours a week. And more than half of us also work at full-time day jobs.”

With that in mind, WVFC is introducing a summer-long special focus on caregiving and caregivers. It’s our way of spotlighting a phenomenon that so many of us have gone through, are going through, or will in the future. Throughout the summer, look for articles and interviews on the caregiving experience, on everything from financial issues to health and nutrition (for caregivers as well as receivers).

“Focus on Caregiving” kicks off today with Part 1 of a three-part interview with Gail Sheehy about Passages in Caregiving. Later this month, we’ll have a review of the book by WVFC contributor Susan Baida, co-founder of the website eCare Diary. Over the next weeks, we’ll feature videos of Gail interviewing caregiving couples and families, and articles by Susan on different aspects of the caregiving experience. Dr. Pat Allen will answer caregiver questions on health and sexuality, and WVFC contributors who’ve been through the caregiving process will share experiences and offer practical tips. We’ll also have suggestions on how non-caregivers can support friends and family members who’ve taken on this role.

As always, we welcome, invite, and encourage your thoughts and comments. We look forward to sharing the journey.

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  • Karen J. Levey June 19, 2010 at 12:31 am

    I have been doing this adult caregiver being there for elder parents.

    Karen

    Reply
  • Karen J. Levey June 19, 2010 at 12:29 am

    It was great to hear the thoughts on caregiving!

    Thanks!
    I want to continue

    Karen

    Reply