Better Healthcare for Caregivers

Ironically, senior caregivers, as the people on the front lines of providing the daily care needs, very often do not have robust health care insurance through their employers.  Caregiving can be physically and emotionally draining, much more so than many other careers.  Senior care corporations have the same challenges as other small businesses in the U.S. - difficulty providing for benefits for employees who make less than six figures a year and difficulty qualifying for group plans because of high turnover in employees and a high number of part-time employees (caregiver turnover is a necessary part of caregiving as senior clients get better or pass away).  At the same time, a little preventative care would go a very long way in helping caregivers manage a healthy lifestyle. Stress turns to distress when it is not handled positively and results in physical, mental and emotional health issues.  As stress comes with the territory of caregiving, effective health insurance to assist with combating stress should always be provided to caregivers.

Following are some of the health effects of stress on the body.   As caregivers for seniors are assisting with end-of-life issues, along with the daily activities of living, it is important they are able to effectively manage the stresses that come with caregiving.
  • Disturbed Sleep (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Appetite changes (eating too much or losing appetite)
  • Overacting to situations (easily angered or irritated)
  • Need to be alone (isolation)
  • Constant negativity
  • Moodiness and hypersensitivity
  • Loss of confidence
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Breathing problems (anxious or can't catch breath)
  • Unmotivated and feeling tired constantly
  • Muscle tension and pain (the kink in your neck that doesn't go away)
Studies show that the combination of one or more of the health effects of stress can lead to diseases such as substance abuse, heart problems, strokes, hypertension, ulcers, depression, skin problems, severe weight gain or weight loss, to name just a few.

As the need for senior caregivers continues to grow along with the aging population, it is important our country considers the health care needs of all workers.  The New York Times/CBS news poll indicates wide support for a government run health care program.  Americans said they would be willing to pay higher taxes for a universal health plan.  It seems to make sense that the health care industry should be a fan of this new plan which would help them support their frontline caregivers better.

Starbuck's founder, Howard Schultz, experienced the challenges of living without health insurance along with the economic hardships that come with it, as his father did not have a job providing health insurance.  He went down a very long and winding road to be able to provide health care coverage to Starbuck's employees and this continues to be a benefit he believes in, even when the shareholders protest because of the costs.

Let us know what your health care benefits are as a caregiver - post your comments and join the conversation. 
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Comments (2) -

  • Susan Birchman

    6/21/2009 5:01:16 PM | Reply

    Yes, all caregivers should be given health care benefits and support.  I really value being able to talk to my client's case manager about his care needs as well as all of his complaints and challenges.  Caregiving is hard work and we see what happens when you don't take good care of yourself.

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