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Holidays Place Extra Demand on TN Caregivers

A majority of Tennesseans are caregivers or have cared for an adult at some point in their life, according to a new AARP Tennessee survey of registered voters in the state. (Ladyheart/morguefile.com)
A majority of Tennesseans are caregivers or have cared for an adult at some point in their life, according to a new AARP Tennessee survey of registered voters in the state. (Ladyheart/morguefile.com)
December 17, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Chances are most of us feel like we're burning the candle at both ends this month, but the demands of the holidays are exaggerated for the thousands of caregivers in Tennessee.

A new survey from AARP Tennessee of 800 registered voters found 60 percent of respondents are currently providing or have provided unpaid care to an adult loved one. Many are also caring for their own children at the same time.

Shelley Courington, associate state director for advocacy for AARP Tennessee, knows the demands first hand as she and her husband care for her aging father-in-law.

"It's a really big juggle for our family, to make sure that we are caring for our child, that we are taking care of our work needs, and that we are making sure that he is cared for as well," says Courington.

Caregivers in Tennessee and the rest of the country provide assistance with, among other things, grocery shopping, transportation, household work and preparing meals. The survey also found while many caregivers want to provide assistance to their loved ones, most of them report feeling emotionally stressed, and one-in-three report being financially stressed.

Rebecca Kelly, state director with AARP Tennessee, says if you're a caregiver, be specific about what help you might need from your friends and family.

"Be specific about what you need and let people help you," she says. "The holidays are a great time to just be really honest and say 'I could use help once a week with grocery shopping, or helping with finances or even cleaning the house.'"

Kelly says it's also a good time of year for those who aren't serving as caregivers to offer a listening ear.

"The chances of you sitting around the holiday table with somebody who is a caregiver are very strong and so especially with the holidays coming up, we have found that one of the most important things caregivers need and want is just for somebody to listen to them. "

According to the AARP survey, 68 percent of caregivers are women and slightly more than that are over 55 years old.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN