Benefits of Therapy for Caregivers by Carrie Cutler

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, an “informal caregiver is defined as an unpaid individual (for example, a spouse, partner, family member, friend, or neighbor) involved in assisting others with activities of daily living and/or medical tasks. Formal caregivers are paid providers of care in one’s home or in a care setting (day care, residential facility, long-term care facility).”1

  • About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months.2
  • The majority of caregivers (82%) care for one other adult, while 15% care for two adults, and 3% for three or more adults.3
  • About 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer's disease or other dementia.4

Caregiver stress occurs when an individual experiences feelings of being overwhelmed due to the physical and emotional demands of caring for another person. Caregivers may encounter feelings of isolation, changes in sleep or weight, substance abuse, feelings of being overwhelmed, and a loss of interest in activities, which could lead to struggles with anxiety and depression.5

Most of the individuals we see in the CareOptions program are informal caregivers who are looking after a partner, spouse or parent. Many people report feeling stressed and overwhelmed because in addition to caring for their loved ones, they are also in charge of managing their own health, homes and finances. This creates a tremendous responsibility and can lead people to experience the symptoms described above. Additionally, some caregivers may not have adult children or family in the area and, therefore, do not have assistance. Therapy can provide an opportunity for a caregiver to get some support in a safe environment. Furthermore, counseling can give someone a period of respite. It affords dedicated time during the week to focus solely on the caregivers’ needs. This is something that may not occur very often for caregivers.

For some individuals the idea of therapy can be frightening. At times, people worry about being judged for seeking counseling, or they feel ashamed that they are struggling with their emotions. Individuals attend therapy for a variety of reasons. At times it is to work on a specific problem or get support, and at other times it is to cope with mental health struggles. Therapy allows someone to feel listened to and understood. It is never something one should feel embarrassed about.

Individuals may be questioning whether they can afford therapy. Medicare and Supplemental Insurances often cover the majority of the cost of treatment. This allows for a low or zero fee, making therapy more attainable.

In terms of caregiving, feeling supported can allow individuals to feel more successful at the often difficult task of providing care for their loved ones. Learning about tools for coping can lead to a better quality of life for both the caregiver and their family member.     

For more information on this service, contact CareOptions at 847.242.6270 or careoptions@nssc.org.

1 National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S. https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-demographics.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4  Alzheimer's Association. (2015). 2015 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures. https://www.caregiver.org/caregiver-statistics-demographics.

5 Office of Women’s Health. www.womenshealth.gov.

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benefits of therapy for caregivers

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