Health.com published a list of “10 Careers With High Rates of Depression.” Sadly, but not surprisingly, the profession at the top of the list is that of personal caregiver. What does surprise us, however, from our experience at Support For Home, is the reason they give for depression among caregivers:
A typical day can include feeding, bathing, and caring for others who are “often incapable of expressing gratitude or appreciation…because they are too ill or too young or they just aren’t in the habit of it,” says Christopher Willard, clinical psychologist at Tufts University and author of Child’s Mind.
“It is stressful, seeing people sick and not getting a lot of positive reinforcement.”
For our Home Care Aides, the lack of appreciation is very rare, regardless of the age of their clients. For our employees, the reasons for depression are more likely to fall within the list below:
- The relationship is temporary, but intense.
- We had a client who broke a hip, and our Home Care Aide’s job was to help him recover so he could return to Wyoming, from California. She did, he did, and her tearful goodbye included the lament that she only got to hear about half of his life stories.
- Whether our clients are involved in hospice when our Home Care Aides begin to provide support, separation through the death of the client is, as one employee put it, “a fact of our lives. You never get over it, no matter how many clients you lose.”
- Personal caregivers are under-rewarded in our society. Financially, Home Care Aides are very poorly compensated. Our own agency pays 20%-30% more than other companies in our area, but it is still too low for our employees to escape being marginalized, economically. Until medical insurance, including Medicare, begins covering some of the cost of home care and people start purchasing Long-Term Care Insurance, the cost of home care — or assisted living or other alternatives — to families will be such that home care agencies will not be able to afford to pay Home Care Aides what they really deserve.
Best wishes, Bert