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Author Gail Sheehy talks about caregiving

posted on May 26, 2010 at 10:59 AM

This is an excerpt from a presentation by best-selling author Gail Sheehy, who wrote: "Passages In Caregiving."   She spoke this spring in Des Moines as part of the Des Moines Public Library's Avid series.


Listen to this the typical caregiver profile because this may be you.  The average family caregiver today is a woman in her 40s who still has at least one child at home and who works outside the home at least part-time.  This is Cara; she has three children at home. 

The average caregiver spends at least 20 hours a week on care for a loved one.  Often at the expense of: tension to her teenage children, or to her husband, and certainly to her friends, and her own health which is the biggest danger.  If this is you I hope you have an, a-ha moment.  Say, whoa, I am in a very important and professional level role and I need to communicate that to doctors and nurses and to my friends because the prevalence of this mostly ignored passage is pretty staggering. 

In almost one out of three American homes somebody is taking care of an adult who used to be independent and more than half of America's caregivers work full-time.  So, they're on the phone a lot of the time when their employer doesn’t know it or finds out, and actually more and more companies are getting wind of this and are starting some kind of elder care support programs.  So, if you work for a company, ask them if they have one and if they don't, you know, look up the companies that do and let them know about it.

And one third of family caregivers today are men, although their efforts are often administrative or long-distance but very necessary.  

Tags: aging Des Moines economy health Iowa