When is it Time for Professional Home Care? Assessing the Personal Toll of Caregiving

Providing in-home care for an aging family member can have a dramatic effect on an individual’s mental and physical health. Opting to use a professional home care service can alleviate some of that stress and may help you avoid the physical and emotional consequences.

More Seniors Aging at Home than Ever Before

US Census Data shows that only 1% of Americans between 65 and 74 live in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. The vast majority of aging seniors have chosen (sometimes out of necessity) to age in place at home. But many don’t employ professional home care until it becomes an absolute necessity. In fact, The National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP reports that 44 million Americans 18 and up provide some type of assistance or support to a senior or adult with disabilities.

On one hand that’s good. Individuals who live at home enjoy a higher quality of life and live longer than those in nursing homes if they’re given the proper care and support. Plus, those “bonus years” with a loved one can produce memories that will be cherished for lifetime.

On the other hand that statistic poses problems.

The Emotional Toll of Home Care

The rate of mental health issues (including depression) in caregivers is much higher than that of non-caregivers. A study published in 2006 (1) found that 40%-70% of caregivers show “clinically significant” symptoms of depression. Roughly half of them suffer symptoms serious enough to warrant a clinical diagnosis.

It’s not hard to understand why that might be. Caregiving can be emotionally draining. A self-report survey of caregivers conducted by the Center on Aging Society(2) found that:

  1. 16% of respondents are “emotionally strained.”

  2. 26% say caregiving is “emotionally difficult.”

  3. 22% are physically exhausted by bedtime.