“An illness, accident or act of violence can change a family’s life forever.” That’s how Kay Sauck felt after watching her father descend into Alzheimer’s and then witnessing the aftermath of an intruder’s brutal beating of her elderly in-laws. Through her own family’s frantic search for information and resources, Sauck realized the complexity of the family caregiver’s world.
“Caring for loved ones and losing loved ones is the part of life that has no step-by-step manual,” Sauck said. “We make it through these times by clinging to our families and to our faith and by learning what we can from one another.”
Sauck, CEO of Sauck Media Group, researched the caregiving industry and was convinced that a monthly magazine for family caregivers and an online support community was needed for the over 50 million caregivers across the nation. Caregiving in America magazine made its debut in mid-December — just eighteen months after the traumatic attack on her in-laws and three years following her father’s death.
“Through Caregiving in America, we want people to know they are not alone. The stories we share about caregivers are real, heartwarming and uplifting,” Sauck said.
Facts on caregivers
- Value to Society — Family caregivers have been viewed as an unpaid extension of the U.S. health care system. The estimated economic value of their unpaid contributions was approximately $375 billion in 2007, according to the 2008 update of the AARP Public Policy Institute’s Valuing the Invaluable: The Economic Value of Family Caregiving. Consequently, the unpaid care provided by family caregivers is not only beneficial to the assisted individual but to society as a whole.
- Prevalence of Caregiving — “I learned that 21 percent of the U.S. population provides unpaid care to friends or relatives 18 and older. That’s one in five adults,” Sauck said. In fact, caregivers transcend demographics and are people of every race, gender, income level, geographic location, family size and lifestyle. The most common caregiving relationships are adult children caring for an aging parent, parents caring for a chronically ill or disabled child, or a spouse caring for a chronically ill or aging spouse.
- The Growing Concern — However, family caregiving can come at a cost to the caregiver — a concern discussed at a national level by caregiving organizations, health care institutions, insurance companies and the government. Most people are not prepared for the challenges caregiving brings. As they care for their loved one, many face physical, financial and emotional hardships. The resulting stress affects not only them but those around them.The often-quoted 2004 Caregiving in the U.S. survey by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP showed that feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety are common among caregivers. The survey also found that besides experiencing emotional anguish, caregivers are also at an increased risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes.”I did not fully understand the toll caregiving can take on a person until Alzheimer’s enveloped my father,” Sauck said.Â “Family was close by to help, but Mom was his primary caregiver. Through those years, Mom became lonely and isolated. The life she had known was gone. It also became apparent that her best support was not her family, but rather a small group of women whose husbands also had Alzheimer’s disease — people who were experiencing similar life events.”
- Caregiving Trends — Trends show a growing need for caregiving and some areas of concern: The large generation of baby boomers is aging. Chronic illnesses are increasing. A shift from formal care to informal family care is occurring. Families are smaller and more geographically dispersed.
Part of the solution
Caregiving in America is anticipating these trends and desires to be part of the solution. In each monthly issue, readers will find articles and stories written by nationally acclaimed experts on topics such as grief, elder care, ethics and practice of hospice, suicide, spirituality, extraordinary experiences of the bereaved, humor, inheritance, financing long-term care, depression, mental illness and the boomer burden. The website — CaregivingInAmerica.com — contains information about the magazine and will continually develop its resource network.
With the monthly magazine, online community, directory of local resources, speaking engagements and conferences, Caregiving in America aims to encourage and uplift family caregivers nationwide. “At Caregiving in America we are working collaboratively with caregiving organizations, professionals and other family caregivers to provide the best information and support we can offer,” Sauck said.
The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving and Aging with Dignity are two national organizations collaborating with the magazine. The public is also encouraged to share caregiving stories by either going online at CaregivingInAmerica.com or by calling 507.235.8737.
“My mother-in-law survived a random act of violence that affected the entire family deeply,” Sauck said. “However, her strength and resiliency has been an example for all of us. I would love to see her face grace the cover of Caregiving in America some day. She is the strongest, most courageous woman I know.”