Organizations Shining Spotlight on Home Caregivers' Health

Lynchburg, VA- Home Instead Senior Care in Lynchburg and Roanoke is shining a spotlight on a topic that often goes unnoticed--the health of caregivers. In fact, they created a website to help those who take care of loved ones with a disability or disease.

Leaders in home care organizations say taking care of someone can really take a toll on a person emotionally, mentally and physically. They're out to help caregivers cope with distress in what can be very difficult situations.

"The family caregivers, their lives change completely," said Brenda Dixon, Director of Client Care at Home Instead Senior Care.

"You do what you can for them, no matter what it is. When she calls me I'm there," said Kathy Wright, a Home Instead Caregiver.

29% of Americans are caregivers. They spend an average of 20 hours a week taking care of loved ones in need.

"A lot of people think about you know the person impacted by the disease or the stroke but there really is a lot of things that affect caregivers, and it really changes their life," said Dixon.

Kathy Wright has been a Home Instead Caregiver for five years. She works more than 40 hours each week looking after clients and a couple times a week, drives over two hours to North Carolina to take care of her mother.

"I do a lot of running back and forth to North Carolina and answering calls, talking to doctors, doing whatever I can to help her," said Wright.

The driving has spread Wright thin financially. The lack of sleep and care taking for her mother has strained her emotionally.

"They really feel that loss of freedom. A lot of times they feel resentment. There's so much, so many emotions that go into caregiving and how things are changed," said Dixon.

Some caregivers become so overwhelmed, they can suffer depression, weight gain or loss, or even high blood pressure. Although Wright's been taking care of people her whole life, she'll tell you her biggest ailment is a broken heart.

"I miss them," she said.