How we can better support our caregivers on Women’s Equality Day
Women’s Equality Day commemorates the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote starting in 1920.
Well, it gave white women the right to vote. Women of color continued to fight for their voting rights for decades more until the Voting Rights Act was passed in 1965. (And the fight still isn't over.)
Most of us know women have a long way to go before true “equality” is reached, among all gender identities and people of color.
For now, let’s focus on how we can improve the lives of women caregivers.
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, most older people who rely on caregivers get the care they need from family. Of these caregivers, women provide the majority of unpaid care, making up about 66 percent of caregivers.
While men do make up a large share of caregivers, female caregivers spend 50% more time providing care.
Now caregivers have the added stress of COVID on top of regular caregiving duties. Concerns over their family’s health are even more acute as working women head back to the office and resume busier schedules.
Let’s use this holiday as a reason to support the women in our lives who are caregivers, and to encourage them to prioritize their mental health and wellbeing.
5 Easy ways women caregivers can get a little break
Every time I research women and their role in caregiving, I’m blown away by the statistics.
Like the one from Family Caregiver Alliance- as many as 20% of women workers in the U.S. are family caregivers.
Women who are caregivers face harmful mental health stigmas on top of everyday stressors.
That’s a huge strain on our working population.
It can be hard, and sometimes unrealistic to tell a family caregiver to prioritize their own health. Especially for women, as we’re socialized to carry the burden of everyone else’s emotional and mental wellbeing.
But we all know if we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others.
If you’re a family caregiver, try these exercises to steal away time for yourself:
- Do 5 minutes of meditation on a free app. You’ll be amazed what just a few minutes can do to get you into a better headspace.
- Read a book, if only for 5 or 10 minutes before you go to sleep. We just published a list of books for seniors or about seniors that entertain and inform.
- Get out in nature. Nothing clears the mind like a walk in a peaceful forest. It can give you the space to cry, to be sad and stressed or whatever you’re feeling. Even if you can only break away for a half an hour, studies show it makes a difference.
- Scream into a pillow. Really, if you’ve never tried this, it works wonders. Releasing that pent up energy can lift a weight off your shoulders.
- Read our blog on avoiding caregiver burnout and recognize the signs. Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a difference when done consistently.
A few ways spouses, friends and kids can give women a break from caregiving
Look up caregiver stress on the internet and there will be millions of results.
Women often are forced with the burden of emotional care and the organization of a household. Add caregiving and their professional work on top of that, and you have a recipe for overwhelm, stress and degrading health.
Spouses, kids and other family members can work together to lessen the load on their mothers, friends, wives and partners.
Here’s how to start:
- Volunteer to help with caregiving duties. Take on tasks that you feel comfortable with and help delegate the ones that you don’t.
- Designate kids to help with household chores if they don’t already. Directing them to do simple tasks like loading and unloading the dishwasher, walking the dog and sweeping can make a world of difference with someone’s never-ending to-do list.
- Do something special for the woman caregiver in your life. Whether it’s buying flowers, cooking a nice meal or giving them a day or a weekend to themselves, a brief respite from all their responsibilities can make a world of difference in a caregiver’s mental health.
- Ask questions and pay attention. Be a sounding board and notice when your partner, spouse or family member is overwhelmed. Be there for them when they’re having a rough day or week.
Avoid burnout- Hire paid care when you can
Hiring help with caregiving can be expensive. But it’s worth your mental health and wellbeing to hire a professional caregiver if you know you need a break.
And luckily, there are plenty of options.
- Respite care is one avenue. You can hire a caregiver for as little as 4 hours with many in-home care companies.
- Part-time care gives you the option to continue care, yet hand over the reins half of the time.
- Temporary live-in care and 24-hour care are also options. If you need a caregiver around the clock and/or someone to stay the night, you can hire help once a week or as little as once a month.
Whatever your caregiving needs, SeaCare works with families to come up with a plan and work with your budget and schedule.
Schedule a free in-home assessment by calling 425-559-4339.
Megan Marolf writes about senior topics and outdoor recreation from her home base in Seattle. You can read more about her here.