Starting in 2009, Southeast Washington Aging and Long Term Care offices across Washington state used a new screening tool to better determine the immediate needs of volunteer caregivers. The test was developed by Rhonda Montgomery, professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
The screening of more than 230 caregivers across the state showed that:
• 63 percent said their stress level was high in dealing with a family member needing in-home care.
• 78 percent indicated they experienced a high level of negative impacts on employment, incomes, friendships, hobbies, responsibilities to their children or other family members and other personal obligations and needs.
• 59 percent felt they, at times, struggle with a high level of depressive feelings in regard to caregiving.
• The overall evaluation indicated 83 percent of those screened reported struggle with “identity discrepancies.”
“This means the caregiver is facing a difficult inconsistency with what they believe is their identity toward, for example, their aging mother who might be struggling with dementia,” said caregiver support program coordinator Lynne Van Horn said.
For example, instead of their mom being the steady rock of the family that she once was, she now throws childlike tantrums about food and says her grown children hate her. This isn’t how the caregiver wants to relate to her mother, and the caregiver feels guilty, angry and depressed.
Screenings since 2010 are indicating the percentages reporting stressful burdens is staying about the same.