Journal of Psychosocial Nursing and Mental Health Services

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Aging Matters 

Caring for the Caregivers

Jeanne M. Sorrell, PhD, RN, FAAN

Abstract

National Family Caregivers month is a reminder of the invaluable contributions of family caregivers—contributions that are too often unrecognized when addressing the costs of health care. Unpaid caregivers spend a substantial percentage of each week “helping out,” often with older relatives, which requires major changes in their work patterns. It is clear that these caregivers may need help balancing their work and caregiving responsibilities, and it is tempting to want to help them by “taking over” some of the seemingly overwhelming tasks they face daily. Yet, it is also important to recognize the ways in which these tasks may enrich caregivers’ own quality of life. Through listening to caregivers, nurses and other health care professionals can better understand the embedded values, goals, joys, and disappointments that connect their lives with those for whom they care.

Dr. Sorrell is Professor, School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.

Address correspondence to Jeanne M. Sorrell, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor, School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030; e-mail: jsorrell@gmu.edu.

Abstract

National Family Caregivers month is a reminder of the invaluable contributions of family caregivers—contributions that are too often unrecognized when addressing the costs of health care. Unpaid caregivers spend a substantial percentage of each week “helping out,” often with older relatives, which requires major changes in their work patterns. It is clear that these caregivers may need help balancing their work and caregiving responsibilities, and it is tempting to want to help them by “taking over” some of the seemingly overwhelming tasks they face daily. Yet, it is also important to recognize the ways in which these tasks may enrich caregivers’ own quality of life. Through listening to caregivers, nurses and other health care professionals can better understand the embedded values, goals, joys, and disappointments that connect their lives with those for whom they care.

Dr. Sorrell is Professor, School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia.

Address correspondence to Jeanne M. Sorrell, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor, School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Services, George Mason University, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, VA 22030; e-mail: jsorrell@gmu.edu.

10.3928/02793695-20071101-05

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