As a Right at Home franchisee, there are a multitude of reasons why people will come to you for help, but all of them revolve around an elderly or disabled adult that needs assistance in retaining their independence. What some may not realize about our business is that our care impacts not only the client, but also the client’s family as well. Part of our mission at Right at Home is to help fight the growing problem of depression in family members who are caring for their loved one, which, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance, affects 20 percent of all family caregivers ­- twice the rate of the general population.

This high number can be attributed to a variety of factors, primarily surrounding the tendency of family caregivers to put the needs of their loved ones far above their own in terms of diet, exercise and personal well-being.

The FCA also reports:

  • 65.7 million family caregivers make up 29 percent of the U.S. adult population.
  • 43.5 million of adult family caregivers care for someone over the age of 50 (note that this number is roughly equal to the number of total people over the age of 65 in the U.S. right now).
  • 14.9 million of family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.

While nearly everyone who is caring for an elderly loved one could feel sadness or anxiety over their family member’s situation, the Mayo Clinic has outlined a set of symptoms that could indicate major depression. If someone you know experiences five or more of the following symptoms over a five week period, then you should urge them to consult their doctor or mental health provider.

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or tearfulness most of the day
  • A diminished interest in activities
  • Insomnia or an increased desire to sleep nearly every day and experience fatigue and loss of energy most days
  • Noticeable weight loss or gain
  • Restlessness or slowed behavior
  • Feelings of worthlessness, trouble making decisions or concentrating, or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

If depression is left untreated, it can lead to various emotional or physical problems, and consequently threaten the quality of care the caregiver is able to provide to their loved one.

However, according to the Mayo Clinic, there are several steps family caregivers can take to avoid depression, including reaching out for help, remembering other relationships, journaling, taking time for themselves and staying positive. Caregiving naturally takes away time from all of the above, but it’s extremely important to remember that family caregivers must care for themselves, for both their own well-being and that of the loved one to whom they are providing care.

Allowing a service like Right at Home to augment care administration could benefit both the family caregiver and their loved one. Right at Home’s trained caregivers can assist with a plethora of needed services, including companionship and homemaking, physical assistance, hygiene, wellness and even skilled nursing in some locations. These services allow family caregivers to have a respite from their caregiving responsibilities. Sometimes just adding a few hours for the family caregiver to tend to their own needs (and those of their own family) can have a tremendous impact. Often, caring for an elderly family member is a team effort. As a Right at Home franchisee, you are an important part of that team – and you are delivering on Right at Home’s mission – To Improve the Quality of Life for Those We Serve.