SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — According to a recent AARP report, there’s been an uptick of “caregivers” in Iowa since 2019.
A “caregiver” is often a family member who helps an older relative with day-to-day chores but are not a professional home care provider.
“Doctors visits, rides to the doctor, picking up prescription drugs, some house cleaning and laundry. These are basic needs that many older adults depend on, but they need help to get the job done and that’s where unpaid caregivers come in,” said Brad Anderson, the AARP state director.
When the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, many healthcare professionals left the field, resulting in fewer people to assist the older generations.
“We’re experiencing a pretty severe shortage of people that can provide home base cares. So, what that means is there are a lot of Iowans out there who need home base care, they want someone to come in maybe for a couple hours a day, but they can’t find those people to do the work,” said Anderson.
With fewer people to hire for the job, many Iowans have stepped up to care for their parents and/or grandparents.
“As the number of aging adults increase, we’re gonna see the number of caregivers increase as well,” said Chris Kuchta, Siouxland Aging Services community engagement specialist.
Kuchta said caring for a relative often becomes a part-time job with few breaks.
“Not only are they having jobs, but they’re raising children as well and now their parents are coming along with needs on top of that, so they’re maxed out,” said Kuchta.
That’s why Connections Area Agency on Aging offers burn-out and stress reduction classes for caregivers.
“We know that a stressed caregiver doesn’t give as good of care as a care giver who takes care of themselves. We don’t want that guilt to creep in that they’re feeling like they’re being a bad caregiver” said Kuchta.